Online Meetings: The Temptation to Censor Tricky Questions

Posted in Debian, Google at 9:43 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock

Early in 2020, at the outset of the pandemic, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, Professor Nils Melzer of Switzerland, spoke out about the growing problem of cybertorture.

I could immediately relate to this. I had been a volunteer mentor in the Google Summer of Code since 2013. I withdrew from the program at an accutely painful time for my family, losing two family members in less than a year. Within a week, Stephanie Taylor, the head of the program at Google, was sending me threats and insults. Taylor’s Open Source Program Office at Google relies on hundreds of volunteers like me to do work for them.

Everybody else in my life, my employer, friends and other non-profit organizations that I contribute to responded with compassion and sympathy. Taylor and her sidekicks chose threats and insults. Taylor had chosen to take the pain from my personal life and drag it into my professional life. Despite exercising my rights under the GDPR and asking her to stop this experiment and get out of my life, she continues to sustain it.

The UN’s Forum on Business and Human Rights is taking place this week. It is online due to the pandemic. In the session about accountability and remedies for victims of human rights abuse, my experience with Stephanie Taylor and Google was at the front of my mind. I’m not the only one thinking about Google as a bunch of gangsters: a British parliamentary report and US Department of Justice investigation has also used terms like digital gangster and unlawful to describe the way that people like this are operating.

Yet when I entered the UN’s online event and asked about the connection from Professor Melzer’s analysis to Google’s wrongdoing, the question vanished. I posted a subsequent question asking why my query was censored and it was immediately subject to censorship. This is the golden rule of censorship: don’t ask about censorship. I never received any correspondence or complaints about the question.

united nations, censorship

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaims the right to free speech. Within the first year of the pandemic, the UN has already set that aside, not wanting to offend the Googlers who slink around the corridors of power. If somebody asked the same question in a real world event at the UN in Geneva or New York, would a trap door open up underneath them and make them disappear? Or would members of the panel and the audience need to contemplate Professor Melzer’s work on cybertorture seriously?

If you wish to participate in the final day of the forum, you can use the following links:

daniel pocock, dante pesce, united nations, geneva, palais des nations

daniel pocock, united nations, geneva, palais des nations

OIN is Lying Because It’s Not Helping GNU/Linux and Not Defending the Community, It’s Only Defending Software Patents From Activists and Actual Developers

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 8:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not too shockingly, the toothless (barks only) OIN isn’t developers and isn’t for coders; it’s just diplomats and lawyers in “Linux” clothing (they don’t even use Linux)

Just come closerSummary: The ‘suits’ running the Open Invention Network (OIN) have done nothing for software freedom and programmers’ safety; 15 years down the line they have almost no accomplishments to show, just a massive patent pool that hardly protects anyone, only the status quo

WE recently wrote about — albeit without mentioning names (in order to avoid negative impact on an ongoing dispute) — GNU/Linux distros being shaken down by patent trolls.

“As we recently noted, without naming distros or the patent trolls that attack those distros, there’s a campaign of patent extortion underway.”We heard from a well-known community member about this matter. It’s a real problem.

Hours ago the Open Invention Network (OIN) released another lousy press release merely celebrating its existence. The headline is a lie. OIN is not protecting us, it is protecting software patents from our scrutiny. It uses terms like “Open Source” (which are themselves inherently dishonest) and so far nobody covered it except ZDNet‘s OIN parrots, who wrote about this non-news. It’s just some lousy anniversary of a corporate front group (for corporations with massive troves of patents). The thing we must remember about the so-called ‘Open’ Invention Network is what Bruce Perens keeps remining us. They protect IBM et al (software patents proponents) but not the community or community-centric distros… just as was intended all along. Patents are instruments of monopolisation and the ‘Open’ Invention Network helps monopolies (including Microsoft now, just like the so-called ‘Linux’ Foundation). It’s not new that ZDNet is a megaphone of Open Invention Network and LOT propaganda (those two groups have overlaps) — in essence promoting the software patents agenda. Snakeoil vending for monopolies…

For the rest us? Nothing.

As we recently noted, without naming distros or the patent trolls that attack those distros, there’s a campaign of patent extortion underway. The developers reach out to us, but they don’t want us to say too much. “Did OIN offer any help with this?” I asked one of them. “If not, I’d like to write something about that…”

It has been a fortnight now and no reply.

“I would appreciate any advice that you have,” one of them said. “I am not responding presently [to the patent trolls] and if it comes to it, I intend to fight this. It is making me very anxious however and I suspect this is their intention. Settling is another problem: if I do so, I have effectively admitted that their patents are valid and this queues me up for a long line of encounters with [redacted], other [redacted] codecs etc.”

Yes, it’s about codecs, i.e. software patents.

“I’ve contacted Jean Baptiste-Kempf (VideoLan) president and Ben Henrion,” (FFII) the developer added. “Both have told me that the patents are not legal.”

What has OIN done to help? Nothing. “I’ve been a member of OIN for years,” the developer noted when asked about it, “but haven’t contacted them yet. I plan to do so later this week.”

It has been over a month. “I was wondering if it’s worth getting in touch with United Patents,” said the next suggestion (for Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) inter partes reviews (IPRs), “although they seem primarily focused in the US.”

They started tackling software patents in Europe as well not too long ago. EPO-granted patents…

A month ago I said: “This will be interesting to follow. It will be very important to see if OIN even lifts a finger to help.”

It has not. I’ve kept this in my notes for a while. And OIN has done nothing to help. So when the ZDNet propaganda says (hours ago) that OIN is our friend it’s pretty clear that it bothered talking to nobody outside OIN and its circles. It’s just parroting press releases and PR, quite frankly as usual.

The Stench Follows and Spreads: Another UPC Lie Now Followed by Lies From the Government of Germany

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 5:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Zombie bill, zombie brains (no thinking required anymore)

Death coming

Summary: Mindless propaganda from Team UPC finds its way onto the desks of German politicians; but nevertheless, another month passes with no progress whatsoever as UPCA remains dead in the water

IT IS almost November 18th already, so the "early November" promises look like a farce already. Team UPC can’t stop lying. It has done this for nearly a decade, together with EPO management (Benoît Battistelli told endless UPC lies and António Campinos promoted the UPC within a couple of days of taking that ‘presidential’ job owing to nepotism).

Everything that touches the UPC tends to look foolish and dishonest, not to mention disrespectful towards the law and various constitutions. Why would anybody (at this stage) wish to be publicly seen among Team UPC?

“Now we see the government as a whole promoting a lie.”At Bristows, a prime source of UPC lies, Gregory Bacon is almost ‘last man standing’ and he has just said “the [German] government noted that the unitary patent/UPC project has, over the many years of negotiations, had strong support from German and European industry, including SMEs.”

This is a lie. Bristows is still happy to perpetuate lies.

COME WITH USThe Government of Germany is self-nuking by saying that SMEs ‘love’ the UPC. What next or what else will they tell us? Donald Trump “had strong support” from black people? Putting aside software patents’ effect on European coders, SMEs across many sectors openly opposed the UPC (those who had time to watch what was going on and could still not afford lobbyists).

Earlier this year we said that the stunts from the German ministry of injustice would cost it greatly in credibility and stature. Now we see the government as a whole promoting a lie. This whole thing won’t end well for Germany. Its reputation is already severely harmed by a number of scandals on the patent front, nullifying the notion that it’s a nation of law and order. It fast becomes the “wild west” of Western Europe.

Links 17/11/2020: PrimTux6 and Firefox 83

Posted in News Roundup at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • GNU/Linux

    • Audiocasts/Shows

      • Full Circle Weekly News #190

        AWS Creates Its Own Docker Images


        Dell Adds Privacy Drivers to the Kernel


        Elementary OS Is Making Progress with Dark Mode in Odin


        Raspberry Pi 400’s New Form Factor


        KDE Announces Updates and Updates


        Nitrux 1.3.4 Out


        Emmabuntus Debian Edition 1.03 Outinstallation features


        Sparky Linux 5.13 Out


        LXQT 0.16 Out


        Collabora Office 6.4 Out
        https://www .collaboraoffice.com/press-releases/collabora-online-6-4-0-released/

        Second Gen Librem Mini from Purism Out


    • Applications

      • LazPaint: A Free & Open Source Paint.NET Alternative

        If you are fond of using tools to quickly edit and manipulate images and screenshots, you may have heard about Paint.NET, which is available only for Windows systems.

        It is a popular nifty tool to get a lot of basic editing tasks done along with a bunch of options available. You might be aware of several image editing tools but Paint.NET is a pretty popular option just because it is easy to use without any bloated feature for an average user.

        LazPaint comes to the rescue as an impressive open source replacement to Paint.NET for Linux, Windows, and macOS. It offers most of the essential features one would need to manipulate images while being easy to use.

      • Top 6 Open Source Shells for Linux

        In the world of Operating Systems, the Linux operating system is everyone’s favorite gladiator and for obvious reasons. Firstly, it is open-source, meaning the only thing you need to worry about is your internet provider’s stability and subscription rates. There is no exchange of cash needed for you to get the best experience in the Linux world. Secondly, the Linux OS is powerful.

        If you are thirsty for a tech-savvy experience, you will never run out of things to do on the Linux operating system environment. Lastly, the reason we gathered this article. It is only fair to state that if an operating system is categorized as open-source, then the software and applications that define it should also be in the same domain.

        If we are to count the number of open-source software and applications Linux offers, we will have to enter a black hole. Each day, the Linux community produces new and improved software and applications related to the Linux distros.

      • Bitwarden in Linux

        In the modern era, the world has seen major progression in the technological sector. New and advanced technologies have made the lives of people easier. Not long ago, people used landlines to communicate with one another, but now, devices such as smartphones have arrived. Such advances have truly revolutionized the lives of humans in ways that go beyond the concept of communication. Such has been the impact of technology on our lives that every aspect of modern life has been merged with it. Whether it involves our finances or our social profiles, all rely heavily on technology.

        However, this reliance of ours has made us much more vulnerable to data breaches. The real-life cases of Adobe and eBay clearly indicate what a serious issue cybersecurity is. Cyberattacks have also been on the rise and, to top it off, even more advanced and new kinds of attacks are being developed every day. Although Linux is much more secure than Windows and other operating systems, it is still vulnerable to viruses.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Desktop Environments/WMs

      • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

        • KDE maintainers speak on why it is worth looking beyond GNOME

          KDE dates from 1996, when it was announced by Matthias Ettrich, a Linux fan who sought an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows 3.1, of which he said back in 2003: “There was really nothing good one could say about it, but it was popular.”

          The name originally stood for Kool Desktop Environment and was also a pun on CDE (Common Desktop Environment), a proprietary Unix desktop. Ettrich choose the Qt framework from Trolltech (now the Qt Company) to build it, later becoming an employee.

        • Qt 3D Changes in Qt 6

          Qt 6 is nearly upon us. While this has not been addressed by other publications, Qt 3D is also introducing a number of changes with this major release. This includes changes in the public API that will bring a number of new features and many internal changes to improve performance and leverage new, low-level graphics features introduced in QtBase. I will focus on API changes now, while my colleague, Paul Lemire, will cover other changes in a follow up post.

    • Distributions

      • Reviews

      • New Releases

        • PrimTux6 Released: A French Educational Linux Distribution For Students

          A few days ago, the PrimTux team launched the sixth version of its educational free and open source operating system, called PrimTux6.

          With PrimTux6, it is now available in two versions: one based on Ubuntu 18.04.5 or 20.04.1 for recent computers (64-bit) and the other on Debian 10 “Buster” for older computers (32-bit). However, both versions are designed to be extremely lightweight.

          For those who don’t know, PrimTux is a French-oriented Debian and Ubuntu-based Linux distribution for educational environments and to run on all types of PC, including old ones.

          Besides basic Linux applications, it offers a very rich educational software for children from kindergarten to the first years of college.

      • BSD

        • Toward an automated tracking of OpenBSD ports contributions

          A first step for the CI service would be to create a database of diffs sent to ports. This would allow people to track what has been sent and not yet committed and what the state of the contribution is (build/don’t built, apply/don’t apply). I would proceed following this logic: [...]

        • Why I use OpenBSD

          In this article I will share my opinion about things I like in OpenBSD, this may including a short rant about recent open source practices not helping non-linux support.

      • Debian Family

        • Tails 4.13 Anonymous Linux Distro Released with Mozilla Thunderbird 78

          In this release, Tails finally upgrades the Mozilla Thunderbird open-source email, chat and news client to the latest 78 branch, which brings numerous new features and improvements like OpenPGP encryption. Tails 4.13 ships with Mozilla Thunderbird 78.4.2 by default.

          It’s also important to know that the Mozilla Thunderbird 78 series no longer supports the Enigmail add-on for OpenPGP functionality since it is now built into the applications. Therefore, Tails users who use Enigmail are recommended to read the official migration instructions before upgrading to version 4.13.

    • Devices/Embedded

    • Free, Libre, and Open Source Software

      • If you want to go far, together is faster (I).

        It was not until later on in my career, when I could relate to good Open Source evangelists but specially good sales professionals. I learned a bit about how different groups within the same organization are incentivized differently and you need to understand those incentives to tune your message in a a way that they can relate to it.

        Most of my arguments and those from my colleagues back then were focused on cost reductions and collaboration, on preventing silos, on shorten innovation cycles, on sustainability, prevention of vendor lock-in, etc. Those arguments resonate very well among those responsible for strategic decisions or those managers directly related with innovation. But they did not work well with execution managers, specially senior ones.

        When I have been a manager myself in the software industry, frequently my incentives had little to do with those arguments. In some cases, either my manager’s incentives had little to do with such arguments despite being an Open Organization. Open Source was part of the company culture but management objectives had little to do with collaboration. Variables like productivity, efficiency, time-to-market, customer satisfaction, defects management, release cycles, yearly costs, etc., were the core incentives that drove my actions and those around me.

        If that was the case for those organizations I was involved in back then, imagine traditional corporations. Later on I got engage with such companies which confirmed this intuition.

        I found myself more than once arguing with my managers about priorities and incentives, goals and KPIs because, as Open Source guy, I was for some time unable to clearly articulate the positive correlation between collaboration and efficiency, productivity, cost reduction etc. In some cases, this inability was a factor in generating a collision that end up with my bones out of the organization.

      • Web Browsers

        • Mozilla

          • Firefox 84 will be the last version with NPAPI plugin support

            Mozilla plans to remove support for so-called NPAPI plugins in Firefox 85 according to a post by Jim Mathies, Senior Engineering Manager, to the Mozilla Dev Platform group.

            Mozilla dropped support for all NPAPI plugins except for Adobe Flash when it released Firefox 52 in March 2017. NPAPI allowed the browser to integrate plugins to add support for content such as Silverlight or Java to the Firefox web browser.

            When Adobe announced that it would stop supporting Adobe Flash at the end of 2020, it was clear that Mozilla would not only disable support for Adobe Flash in Firefox but remove the entire NPAPI codebase from the browser.

          • Firefox 83 Arrives with HTTPS-Only Mode, PDF Form Filling + More
          • 83.0 Firefox Release
          • Firefox 83 Released With Warp’ed JavaScript, HTTPS-Only Mode Option

            Firefox 83.0 is now shipping as a notable update to the Mozilla web browser and this time around are some exciting changes.

            Most notable with Firefox 83 is the SpiderMonkey “Warp” upgrade aiming to deliver better website responsiveness and other real-world JavaScript performance improvements. Mozilla describes the Warp benefits as “improved page load performance by up to 15%, page responsiveness by up to 12%, and reduced memory usage by up to 8%. We have replaced part of the JavaScript engine that helps to compile and display websites for you, improving security and maintainability of the engine at the same time.”

      • Programming/Development

        • Rust

          • My top 7 Rust commands for using Cargo | Opensource.com

            I’ve been using Rust for a little over six months now. I’m far from an expert, but I have stumbled across many, many gotchas and learned many, many things along the way; things that I hope will be of use to those who are learning what is easily my favourite programming language.

  • Leftovers

    • In Memory of the Juan Gómez-Quiñones: Chicano Scholar, Activist and Poet

      We lost one of the greatest intellectuals not only in the Americas, but also the world. The fact that JGQ was born a Mexican in el sur (Parral, Chihuahua, Mexico) and died a proud Mexican/Chicano in el norte (Los Angeles, California) in a time when the Mexican continues to be otherized, marginalized and pejoratized serves as a grim reminder of this great loss for la raza.

      For over 50 years, JGQ dedicated his life to uplift the people of the sun through his superior scholarship, dedicated mentorship, political actions and eloquent words. While his contributions are many, for the sake of space, here go a few: wrote classic books and articles on Chicana/o history, labor, politics and culture; helped establish the theoretical foundations of Chicana and Chicano studies, along with the living legend, Rodolfo “Rudy” Acuña, whom JGQ fondly admired; taught and mentored thousands of students who became leaders in their own right; supported and participated in countless political actions for social, economic and racial justice; lead co-author of El Plan de Santa Bárbara: A Chicano Plan for Higher Education; co-founded UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC); co-founded CSRC’s Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies; NACCS (National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies) Scholar Recipient, 1990; wrote poetry and eloquent prose; etc.

    • Nico Perrino and John K. Roth – The Project Censored Show

      Then Mickey welcomes philosophy professor and author John K. Roth, who has dedicated most of his scholarly career to studying the Holocaust. He explains the conditions that gave rise to fascism and the genocide of Jews, and suggests what lessons modern societies should remember to avoid taking similar paths.

    • Radio France Internationale publishes obituaries of people still alive

      Broadcasters and media outlets often prepare obituary material in order to be able to publish it promptly when a death is announced.

      The problem occurred when RFI was moving its website to a different content management system, according to its statement.

      It said “around a hundred” draft stories were published in error – not just to its own site but to partner sites including Google and Yahoo.

    • Tech giants have begun laying off blue-collar contractors: report

      Big tech companies were among the first in the country to allow their white-collar employees to work from home indefinitely when the pandemic hit. And, following backlash about the impact that would have on blue-collar workers, some firms also pledged to continue to pay them as well, according to the newspaper.

      However, several Bay Area firms, including Electronic Arts, LinkedIn, Salesforce and Nvidia, have terminated contracts with transportation providers in recent months, while Yahoo cut more than 120 cafeteria jobs at its Sunnyvale, Calif., facility.

      In a report released Thursday, the labor advocacy group Silicon Valley Rising projected up to 12,000 workers could find themselves without health coverage if the trends continue on their current trajectory.

    • Science

      • It’s been a week since Joe Biden won. Now what for medical science policy?

        A week ago this Saturday, after four days of ballot counting, tabulation, speculation, commiseration, and angst on all sides, it became clear that Joe Biden had won Pennsylvania, and with it the necessary Electoral College votes to put him over the top for the Presidency. True, there have been (and probably will still be) be recounts and legal challenges, but most agree that President Trump doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on legally, and thus far his legal challenges have been shot down like Japanese Zeroes during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. (Look it up if you’re not big on WWII history. It’s even a bit of a Thanksgiving reference.) It is also unlikely that recounts will change the results in enough states to flip the election back to President Trump. What this means is that, barring a truly unexpected development, on January 20, Joe Biden will take the oath of office and become the 46th President of the United States.

    • Health/Nutrition

      • “I’m Not Going to Be Bullied”: Michigan Governor Rebukes Trump Aide’s Call for Uprising Over Covid-19 Measures

        “Actual public health professionals do not incite violence in response to guidelines or policy that they disagree with. The purpose of public health is to help people, not endanger them.”

      • Lowering the Bar on Success: Megan McArdle on Drug Development

        Well, first we need a bit of perspective. Yes, we place an enormous value on our health and our lives, so getting effective treatments and vaccines quickly are extremely important. But we do also care about what we pay to get there.

        To take my favorite analogy, the firefighter who goes into a burning building to rescue a couple of children can be said to deserve many millions of dollars. After all, we put a huge value on human life. While firefighters are reasonably well-paid, most of their paychecks don’t cross $100,000. Should we pay all of our firefighters $1 million a year? Perhaps in some sense that would be fair, but the reality is that we can get people to do the work for far less.

      • 50 Years After the Start of the War on Drugs, Americans Have a Chance to Fix the Harm It Created

        Today, policymakers and the public alike are increasingly adopting approaches that treat substance use as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice one.

      • Multisolving Our Way to COVID-19 Economic Recovery
      • End University Mandates for COVID Tech

        Since the COVID-19 crisis began, many universities have looked to novel technologies to assist their efforts to retain in-person operations. Most prominent are untested contact tracing and notification applications or devices. While universities must commit to public health, too often these programs invade privacy and lack transparency. To make matters worse, some universities mandate these technologies for students, faculty, staff, and even visitors.  As we’ve stated before, forcing people to install COVID-related technology on their personal devices is the wrong call.            

        This is why the EFF is launching our new campaign: End University App Mandates.  Please help us call on university officials to publicly commit to the University App Mandate Pledge (UAMP). It contains seven transparency and privacy-enhancing policies that university officials must adopt to protect the privacy, security, and transparency of their community members. Whether you are a student, a worker, a community member, or an alum, we need your support in defending privacy on campus.

        San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called on universities that have launched or plan to launch COVID-19 tracking technologies—which sometimes collect sensitive data from users’ devices and lack adequate transparency or privacy protections—to make them entirely voluntary for students and disclose details about data collection practices.Monitoring public…

      • Study Detailing ‘Scandalous’ Hospital Price-Gouging During Pandemic Proves Medicare for All Urgently Needed

        “These are not markups for luxury condos, they are for the most basic necessity of your life: your health.”

      • Some GOP Governors and Senators Are Simply Dismissing New COVID Surge
      • Trump Obstructing Biden’s Transition May Hinder COVID Vaccine Rollout
      • Rapid Testing Is Less Accurate Than the Government Wants to Admit

        The promise of antigen tests emerged like a miracle this summer. With repeated use, the theory went, these rapid and cheap coronavirus tests would identify highly infectious people while giving healthy Americans a green light to return to offices, schools and restaurants. The idea of on-the-spot tests with near-instant results was an appealing alternative to the slow, lab-based testing that couldn’t meet public demand.

        By September, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had purchased more than 150 million tests for nursing homes and schools, spending more than $760 million. But it soon became clear that antigen testing — named for the viral proteins, or antigens, that the test detects — posed a new set of problems. Unlike lab-based, molecular PCR tests, which detect snippets of the virus’s genetic material, antigen tests are less sensitive because they can only detect samples with a higher viral load. The tests were prone to more false negatives and false positives. As problems emerged, officials were slow to acknowledge the evidence.

      • Winter COVID surge is upon us — Trump and the Republicans are just ignoring it

        What she’s done to her state, Trump and the Republican Party are doing to the entire country. The winter surge that all the scientists predicted is upon us and it’s very bad. The president and his administration are obsessively trying to convince their voters that the election was stolen from them (which is a lie) so they aren’t even pretending to be interested in the rapidly spreading pandemic. Republican officials are missing in action on everything, with senators even refusing to appear on the Sunday morning shows in case they might be asked to explain why their president and their party are tilting at electoral windmills while refrigerator trucks are being commandeered in some states because the morgues are all full.

      • Suicide Crisis In Prisons Compounded By COVID-19, Lack Of Health Care

        In the normal course of its work connecting prisoners across Wisconsin via email correspondence and newsletters, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of Milwaukee receives reports of the deaths of incarcerated people from their fellow prisoners. 

        One recent report involved Kristopher Carlisle, who was incarcerated at the Columbia Correctional Institution.

      • Whitmer Gives Sharp Rebuke to Scott Atlas’s “Rise Up” Tweet Over COVID Rules
    • Integrity/Availability

      • Proprietary

        • If you updated your mac to macOS Big Sur then you have problems with LibreOffice

          First problem – only LibreOffice 7.0 and newer works on macOS 11 Big Sur. Nobody knows why. So if you use older version you should update your LibreOffice to 7.0.3

        • macOS Big Sur update causing some older MacBook Pros to get stuck on black screens

          The macOS Big Sur update has been causing some older MacBook Pros to get stuck on black screens during installation, with no way that users can find to fix it. The issue seems to be most common on late-2013 and mid-2014 models of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Owners of other Macs have reported Big Sur installation issues, too — and some say they’ve been able to fix those issues — but those two models of MacBook Pro seem to be having the most severe problems for now.

        • Pseudo-Open Source

          • Entrapment (Microsoft GitHub)

        • Security

          • Proposed FTC settlement is a disservice to Zoom customers, says Commissioner

            Besides lying about the end-to-end encryption offered by their service, Zoom is also being called out for lying about the encryption status of recorded video calls stored in Zoom’s cloud service. The announcement added that Zoom:

          • Melbourne firm says Windows ransomware threat dealt with promptly

            An Australian firm that was hit by the Windows REvil ransomware earlier this month has said that it has dealt with the incident fully and upgraded its defences to prevent any repeat.

          • Privacy/Surveillance

            • InternetLab’s Report Sets Direction for Telecom Privacy in Brazil

              Five years have passed since InternetLab published “Quem Defende Seus Dados?” (“Who defends your data?”), a report that holds ISPs accountable for their privacy and data protection policies in Brazil. Since then, major Brazilian telecom companies have provided more transparency about their data protection and privacy policies, a shift primarily fueled by Brazil’s new data protection law. 

              InternetLab’s fifth annual report launches today, identifies steps companies should take to protect Brazil’s telecom privacy and data protection. This edition, featuring eight telecom providers for mobile and broadband services, shows Brazil telecom provider TIM leading the way, followed by Vivo and Oi right behind. TIM scored high marks for defending privacy in public policy debates and the judiciary, publishing transparency reports, and transparent data protection policies. In contrast, Nextel scored in the last place as it did in 2019, very far away from the rest of its competitors. Nextel did take a step forward in defending privacy in the judiciary, in contrast to 2019, when it received no stars in any category.

              Hiperderecho, Peru’s leading digital rights organization, has launched today its third ¿Quién Defiende Tus Datos? (Who Defends you Data)–a report that seeks to hold telecom companies accountable for their users’ privacy. The new Peruvian edition shows improvements compared to 2019’s evaluation. Movistar and Claro commit to require…

            • ‘Absolutely Sickening’: US Military Buys Location Data Harvested From Apps, Including One for Muslim Prayers

              “The military industrial complex and the surveillance state have always had a cozy relationship with tech. Buying bulk data in order to profile Muslims is par for the course for them,” says Rep. Ilhan Omar.

            • EFF Urges Universities to Commit to Transparency and Privacy Protections For COVID-19 Tracing Apps

              San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) called on universities that have launched or plan to launch COVID-19 tracking technologies—which sometimes collect sensitive data from users’ devices and lack adequate transparency or privacy protections—to make them entirely voluntary for students and disclose details about data collection practices.Monitoring public health during the pandemic is important to keep communities safe and reduce the risk of transmission. But requiring students, faculty, and staff returning to campus to commit to using unspecified tracking apps that record their every movement, and failing to inform them about what personal data is being collected, how it’s being used, and with whom it’s being shared, is the wrong way to go about it.EFF is urging university officials to commit to its University App Mandate Pledge, a set of seven transparency-and privacy-enhancing policies that will help ensure a higher standard of protection for the health and personal information of students, faculty, and staff.In committing to EFF’s pledge, university officials are agreeing to make COVID-19 apps opt-in, disclose app vendor contracts, disclose data collection and security practices, reveal the entities inside and outside the school that have access to the data, tell users if the university or app vendors are giving law enforcement access to data, and stay on top of any vulnerabilities found in the technologies.“The success of public health efforts depends on community participation, and if students are being forced to download COVID-19 apps they don’t trust to their phones, and are being kept in the dark about who’s collecting their personal information and whether it’s being shared with law enforcement, they’re not going to want to participate,” said EFF Grassroots Advocacy Organizer Rory Mir. “University leaders should support the app mandate pledge and show that they are committed to respecting the privacy, security, and consent of everyone that is returning to campus.”Universities have rushed to adopt apps and devices to monitor public health, with some mandating that students download apps that track their locations in real time or face suspension. Location data using GPS, for example, can reveal highly personal information about people, such as when they attend a protest or go to a bar, where their friends live, and what groups they associate with. It should be up to users to decide whether to download and use a COVID-19-related app, and up to universities and public health authorities to communicate the technology’s benefits, protections, and risks.For the pledge:https://www.eff.org/app-mandate/pledgeFor more about COVID-19 and digital rights:https://www.eff.org/issues/covid-19

              Since this COVID-19 crisis began people have looked to technology to assist in contact tracing and notification. Technology will never be a silver bullet to solve a deeply human crisis, even if it might assist. No app will work absent widespread testing with human follow up. Smartphones are not…

              San Francisco—The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), in partnership with the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, today launched the largest-ever collection of searchable data on police use of surveillance technologies, created as a tool for the public to learn about facial recognition, drones, license plate readers,…

              As uprisings over police brutality and institutionalized racism have swept over the country, many people are facing the full might of law enforcement weaponry and surveillance for the first time. Whenever protesters, cell phones, and police are in the same place, protesters should worry about cell phone surveillance. Often, security…

            • EFF Publishes New Research on Real-Time Crime Centers in the U.S.

              EFF has published a new report, “Surveillance Compounded: Real-Time Crime Centers in the United States,” which profiles seven surveillance hubs operated by local law enforcement, plus data on dozens of others scattered across the country. 

              Researched and written in collaboration with students at the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, the report focuses on the growth of real-time crime centers (RTCCs). These police facilities serve as central nodes and control rooms for a variety of surveillance technologies, including automated license plate readers, gunshots detection, and predictive policing. Perhaps the most defining characteristic of a RTCC is that a network of video cameras installed in the community that analysts watch on a wall of monitors, often in combination with sophisticated, automated analytical software. 

              EFF opposes police Body Worn Cameras (BWCs), unless they come with strict safeguards to ensure they actually promote officer accountability without surveilling the public. Police already have too many surveillance technologies, and deploy them all too frequently against people of color and protesters. We have taken this…

            • What If Cambridge Analytica Owned Its Own Social Network? CA Backer Rebekah Mercer Admits She’s A Co-Founder Of Parler

              Since the election, Parler has found renewed life among Trump supporters who feel that… [checks notes] being fact-checked, or limited for sharing debunked and dangerous conspiracy theories, is somehow an attack on… something (reality: it’s an attack on their delusions). And as Parler has gotten a new round of attention, some questions were raised about the funding behind it. After all, there was no big VC or known investor behind the company, so it wasn’t entirely clear how it was surviving. There was a crazy and incorrect conspiracy theory making the rounds that it was owned by Trumpists’ favorite bogeyman, George Soros. That’s not true, though it would have been completely hilarious if it had been.

            • Finland Fast-Tracks ID Code Law Change After [Cracking] Case

              The government of Finland said Thursday it was preparing legislation that would allow citizens to change their personal identity codes in cases of gross data breaches that carry a high risk of identity theft.

              The government’s fast-tracked proposal was designed primarily to assist thousands of people whose personal information was stolen during a [cracking] of patient records at a private Finnish psychotherapy center.

            • Twitter names famed hacker ‘Mudge’ as head of security

              The company on Monday named Peiter Zatko, widely known by his hacker handle Mudge, to the new position of head of security, giving him a broad mandate to recommend changes in structure and practices. Zatko answers to CEO Jack Dorsey and is expected to take over management of key security functions after a 45- to 60-day review.

              In an exclusive interview, Zatko said he will examine “information security, site integrity, physical security, platform integrity — which starts to touch on abuse and manipulation of the platform — and engineering.”

            • Twitter hires famous hacker to head security operations

              Zatko is a high-profile hacker known as “Mudge” and was a member of L0pht, a hacking group that testified to Congress in 1998 about cyber vulnerabilities in government. He is also one of the leaders of the Cult of the Dead Cow, a hacking group that released tools to hack Windows in a bid to force Microsoft to step up security.

              Zatko has also worked for both the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Defense Department and for Google as part of its Advanced Technology and Projects division.

            • Zuckerberg, Dorsey to Face Republicans Furious About Trump Loss

              Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter Inc.’s Jack Dorsey will face accusations from Republican senators that the companies censor conservative content, after several of President Donald Trump’s social-media posts claiming voter fraud were labeled as false or misleading in the wake of the election.

              The chief executive officers of the social networks are scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday in their second congressional appearance in a month to defend themselves against charges of silencing conservatives.

              The session is likely to focus on Twitter and Facebook’s handling of Trump’s statements about the election process and outcome, many of which have been labeled as false or misleading, as well as their treatment of an October story in the New York Post that was seen as potentially damaging to Democrat Joe Biden.

    • Defence/Aggression

    • Environment

      • Green spaces keep hearts healthy and save lives

        Planting trees and creating urban parks brings more green spaces and cleaner air, cutting heart deaths and saving lives.

      • More Than Two-Thirds of UN Members Embrace Global Plastic Pollution Treaty—But Not the US

        “Support for a global treaty on plastic pollution is a critical action that the Biden administration can take to correct the wrongs of the Trump era.”

      • Energy

      • Wildlife/Nature

        • An Awkward Era for the Commercial Timber Industry

          The logging industry is probably a prime example of the losing side. For that industry, the awkward question is, if acreage taken out of production by law is objectionable, why could acreage taken out of production by a changing climate not be equally objectionable?

          The basics of climate-driven risk to commercial forestry have been known for years, and the evidence has just kept getting better and better. For example, back in December 11, 2007, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a review of 75 studies of rising risk for this industry. The review of these studies revealed that “Even without fires or insect damage, the change in frequency of extreme events, such as strong winds, winter storms, droughts, etc. can bring massive loss to commercial forestry.”

        • Trump Administration Rushes to Auction Off Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Drilling Rights Before Biden Inauguration

          The pristine reserve is home to the Gwich’in people, who call it “Iizhik Gwats’an Gwandaii Goodlit,” or, “the sacred place where life begins.”

        • Protecting the Northern Yellowstone Ecosystem

          Our goal is to ensure that the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem remains functional in the future.  We support designated wilderness under the 1964 Wilderness Act, the Gold Standard for land protection to preserve the Custer Gallatin National Forest’s critical wildlife habitat and significant wildlands (CGNF).  We also identify more than 50 stream and river segments that should be designated as Wild and Scenic Rivers.

          There are more than 700,000 roadless acres that qualify as wilderness on the CGNF. Among the largest roadless parcels are found in the Gallatin Range, which is the largest unprotected wildlands in the northern portion of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

    • Finance

    • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

      • This Regime Must Go NOW: Three Reasons

        First, consistent with my own and others’ understanding of the current White House as proto-fascist, Trump and his inner circle continue to absurdly claim that the 2020 election vote was fraudulent and have yet to give up conducting a coup. Key Trump operatives speak seriously of a “transition” to “a second Trump administration.”

        It would be foolish to laugh off such reckless talk. The Trump campaign and White House are scheming to get the Republican-controlled state legislatures of Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania to declare invalid the mail-in ballots required by the pandemic Trump fueled and fanned across the nation. This would be the pretext for some or all those legislatures trying to install (over the protests of Democratic governors in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan) un-elected slates of Trump electors to the Electoral College, claiming that Trump won the “legal” popular vote in their states. The murky legal and constitutional tangle that could result from such an action could involve Congress and the far-right Trump-appointed Supreme Court (6-3 Republican, including three justices who served on George W. Bush’s side in Bush v. Gore) installing Trump for a second term.

      • The Man From Central Casting

        When people I know, and some to whom I’m related, admit voting for Reagan, I become silent. When my hero, Muhammad Ali, supported Reagan over issues of religion in school, I recoiled. When I remember Reagan’s dog-whistle appeal to racists at his opening campaign appearance in Philadelphia, Mississippi, near the site of the historic murders of three civil rights workers in 1964, I literally get sick to my stomach. When I catalogue Trump’s abrogation of nuclear weapons treaties, I think of Reagan’s nuclear insanity initiating the Star Wars’ program of space weapons. When I think of today’s endless wars, I know that it was Reagan who began the so-called low-intensity war march toward the acceptance of war in Central America that culminated in George H. W. Bush’s eradication of the Vietnam Syndrome that gave us the massive military-industrial-financial pissing away of trillions of dollars that could have gone to programs of social uplift. When I reach down into my pockets, I can witness the diminution of the change there through the destruction of my retirement cost-of-living adjustment whose underpinning was Reagan’s destruction of unions with his frontal attack on the air traffic controllers’ union. When I see a sea of kids in the uniforms of charter schools in New York City, I recall “A Nation At Risk” and the march toward the privatization of public schooling in the US.

        Here’s the man, Reagan, who provided money to fascist murderers in Central America in exchange for weapons for Iran: the Iran-Contra Affair. Here’s the man that began the real tax cuts for the very wealthy that robbed the Treasury of tax dollars that could have helped ordinary people on the streets and in the homes of the US.

      • Tomsk mayor’s wife reportedly threw banking records out of window prior to apartment search

        The wife of Tomsk Mayor Ivan Klyayn — the general director of the company “Tomskoe Pivo” (Tomsk Beer), Galina Klyayn — reportedly threw a pillowcase full of her family’s banking records out of a window moments before investigators searched their home on Friday, November 13. This was first reported by the news outlet Mash on the day of the search. Sources later confirmed these reports to the newspaper Kommersant.

      • Trump’s Game

        I doubt it; I  think Trump is enough of a realist to realize that he has lost in a fair and free election.  It surely grates on him; as all commentators agree, he can’t stand losing.  But his narcissism does not explain all of his behavior.

        There is also calculation: He is looking for a path back to power in 2024.

      • McConnell Pushes to Pack Courts With Trump’s Judges While Neglecting Pandemic
      • At Odds with Haitian Presidency, a Government Watchdog is Weakened by Executive Decree

        President Moïse has ruled by decree, which is not formally allowed by the Haitian constitution, since January 2020, when the terms of most of parliament expired. He has extended executive powers, reforming the penal code, naming a new electoral council with a mandate to reform the constitution, and now weakening one of the last remaining institutions exercising government oversight. The latest decree follows years of conflict between the CSCCA and the Haitian presidency.

        In 2018, anticorruption protesters began advocating for an investigation into Moïse and his predecessors’ handling of billions in Petrocaribe-related spending. Moïse, under increasing pressure from the streets, pledged to support such an investigation. The CSCCA has since released three audit reports on Petrocaribe, finding widespread irregularities and fraudulent practices in the management of the Venezuelan-led aid program, and directly implicating the president, and the company he led before his election. Last year, members of the court had to temporarily leave the country due to threats. As of yet, there has been no real judicial progress in holding anyone accountable for the misuse of public funds. The president has denied all the CSCCA’s allegations.

      • Trump Campaign Keeps Looking for Judges to Rule in Its Favor Following Election
      • Maia Sandu’s victory What you need to know about Moldova’s 2020 elections and first woman president

        On Sunday, November 15, Moldova held a second round of voting in its 2020 presidential elections. Opposition candidate Maia Sandu won, becoming the first woman president in the country’s history. Sandu defeated the incumbent head of state, Igor Dodon, who is often referred to as one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main supporters in the post-Soviet space. Sandu, on the other hand, is considered a pro-EU, anti-corruption candidate. Here’s what you need to know about the results of the elections in Moldova.

      • Draft laws impacting children’s and transgender rights in Russia withdrawn from State Duma

        The authors behind two separate packages of amendments to Russia’s Family Code have withdrawn their initiatives from the State Duma following backlash over proposed changes that would impact child protective services and the rights of transgender people.

      • Robodebt: Stuart Robert does not even have the decency to blush

        The Australian Government has cheerfully forked out $1.2 billion of those green notes to settle a lawsuit in the robodebt case. I think it’s a good moment to stop and consider whether some ministers should be told, in strict terms, to avoid taking any initiatives that involve technology.

      • Alexey Navalny files defamation suit against Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov

        Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny has filed a defamation lawsuit against Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. The claim has been sent to Moscow’s Presnensky District Court, which has yet to set a trial date. 

      • You Can’t Eat Civility: A Message to Joe Biden and the Democrats

        Politeness will not solve the problems facing the country. Democrats must put forth and fight for bold solutions that will materially improve the lives of working people.

      • Mitch McConnell Is Sacrificing the Entire Economy to Impede Biden Administration
      • Democrats Must Keep Their Eyes on the Supreme Court

        The rushed confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett has, for the first time in decades, made Democrats think seriously about progressive reforms to the Supreme Court. Today, conservatives hold a 6-3 majority on the court, illegitimately engineered by Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell. This stark reality has radicalized the base. It has even made some Democratic senators consider using their power to achieve deep structural change, as opposed to cosmetic bipartisan redecorating.

      • How Activists Saved Election Day in Pennsylvania

        Allentown—On the morning of Election Day, Ashleigh Strange was ready for trouble. As the regional organizer for Lehigh Valley Stands Up, she and her team had spent months doing deep canvassing here. Working in close coordination with the immigrant rights group Make the Road and the young climate justice campaigners of the Sunrise Movement, they’d been talking—and more important, listening—to voters. These long, frequently sprawling conversations might start with anxieties about rent or child care or worries about immigrants taking away jobs, but they ended, surprisingly often, with people who’d long ago given up on voting deciding to take a chance on Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

      • Debunking Trump’s Post-Election Lies

        We must see this for what it is: A final attempt of a desperate, bitter man to cling to power.

      • Corporate Democrats Are to Blame for Congressional Losses—So Naturally They’re Blaming Progressives

        When Rep. Rashida Tlaib talks about “pushing the Democratic Party to represent the communities that elected them,” she actually means what she says.

      • “No You Didn’t” Trends After Trump’s Latest Election Result Lie

        “It is a sad failed pathetic coup attempt,” wrote one critic, “but it is still [nevertheless an] attempt to overthrow democracy.”

      • Nebraska’s Last Blue Electoral Vote?

        For four hours in 2016, state Senator Ernie Chambers spoke on the floor of the Nebraska Capitol in order to kill a bill championed by the Republican Party. Dressed in blue jeans and a short-sleeved sweatshirt, Chambers—an expert in Nebraska’s legislative rules and one of the state’s few Black lawmakers—ran down the clock. He talked about mountain lion hunting, the deterioration of his own memory, and whether or not the famed Nebraska author Willa Cather was a lesbian. “I’m having so much fun, it has to be a sin,” Chambers recalled after he successfully thwarted the bill.

      • Glasgow Agreement, A Plan of Our Own

        Rather than plans dictated from the top—which have proven not only to be unfair and destructive, but not even reach the necessary emissions cuts—we will build a plan of our own, from below.

      • Biden Rushes in Where Clinton Failed to Tread

        There’s no returning to normal after Trump.

      • The Coup That Succeeded

        Donald Trump’s pitiful attempts to cling to power have made a farce out of one of the key rituals of democracy, the peaceful transfer of power. Trump refuses to concede, is flooding the courts with frivolous lawsuits designed to stop certification of the vote, keeps urging state legislators to intervene in the picking of electors, and is egging on street conflicts between his supporters and his opponents. All of this is dismaying and destructive to democracy, but unlikely to result in the coup Trump so clearly wants. The key institutions that Trump needs for a coup—the courts, the military, and Republican state legislators in swing states—are all resisting Trump’s cajoling.

      • DNC Sues Georgia Governor Over His Bullshit Claims Democrats Hacked The State’s Voter Registration System

        The never-ending amount of election related litigation keeps on coming. The Trump campaign is still heavily invested in lawsuits — a practice it started before the election and it hasn’t scaled back now that its boy has been handed an L.

      • This Election Was Rigged

        If any governor wants to take away your vote, they don’t even have to tell you, they just kick you off the voting rolls, because right now voting is not a right in America, it’s merely a privilege.

      • It’s 2020 But the Dangerous Myth About the So-Called “Liberal” Media Still Going Strong

        Legitimizing this myth only serves the interests of those opposed to the critical analysis of current events in the United States.

      • Drawing All the Wrong Lessons From Media’s Election 2020 Failures
      • Trump’s Ongoing Crime Wave Requires a Special Prosecutor

        Trump is now being told that the courts don’t agree with his desperate lawsuits brought by firms such as Jones Day, whose lawyers can’t resist the lucrative billings that client Trump generates. Trump is also seeing that Republican Senators are starting to distance themselves from their roles as dittohead minions. Even puppet Mike Pence is not parroting Trump’s wild, flailing fictions.

        All this bluster is, however, more than the fluster of a failed gambling czar going off the rails. There are lootings to be done. By refusing to concede, Trump is raising millions of dollars from his supporters.  Trump’s defiance also distracts the media from the Executive Branch that is on a rampage of wreckage and revenge garnished by profiteering that will fill the defeated President’s days until January 20, 2021.

      • Trump AWOL

        That’s how I feel about Donald Trump, minus the cap gun.

        He’s not finished. He may be around for a long time, out there bellowing more lies. With more than 72 million voters behind him, he will be a Republican power to be reckoned with. He may do it from the confines of a TV studio, emerging to conduct rallies to assuage his need for adoration. He reportedly has ruminated privately that he may run for a second term in 2024, if he’s not in prison.

    • Censorship/Free Speech

      • Don’t Blame Section 230 for Big Tech’s Failures. Blame Big Tech.

        Next time you hear someone blame Section 230 for a problem with social media platforms, ask yourself two questions: first, was this problem actually caused by Section 230? Second, would weakening Section 230 solve the problem? Politicians and commentators on both sides of the aisle frequently blame Section 230 for big tech companies’ failures, but their reform proposals wouldn’t actually address the problems they attribute to Big Tech. If lawmakers are concerned about large social media platforms’ outsized influence on the world of online speech, they ought to confront the lack of meaningful competition among those platforms and the ways in which those platforms fail to let users control or even see how they’re using our data. Undermining Section 230 won’t fix Twitter and Facebook; in fact, it risks making matters worse by further insulating big players from competition and disruption.

        While large tech companies might clamor for regulations that would hamstring their competitors, they’re notably silent on reforms that would curb the practices that allow them to dominate the Internet today.

        Today EFF is launching How to Fix the Internet, a new podcast mini-series to examine potential solutions to six ills facing the modern digital landscape. Over the course of 6 episodes, we’ll consider how current tech policy isn’t working well for users and invite experts to join us in imagining…

        Turkey’s recent history is rife with human rights-stifling legislation and practices. The Internet Law, its amendments, and the recent decision of Turkey’s regulator (BTK) further cemented that trend. The Internet Law and amendments require large platforms to appoint a local representative, localize their data, and speed…

        The upcoming U.S. elections have invited broad attention to many of the questions with which civil society has struggled for years: what should companies do about misinformation and hate speech? And what, specifically, should be done when that speech is coming from the world’s most powerful leaders?Silicon Valley companies and…

      • Trump Campaign’s Ridiculous SLAPP Suit Against CNN Tossed Out Easily

        Back in March you may remember that we wrote about yet another ridiculous SLAPP suit filed by the Donald Trump campaign (using lawyer Charles Harder, who, you may also remember, was the lawyer in the lawsuit against us as well). Harder’s track record in these performative cases continues to be… rather lacking. Last week, you may have missed that amidst all the other legal disputes Trump’s campaign was losing, this particular case was also dismissed — though, not quite as easily as I had expected. And it does leave it open for an amended complaint to be filed, though I still can’t see how it passes muster.

      • Insulting Islam: an Encore for Charlie Hebdo

        In all of these cases, the killings were provoked as well as indefensible. The cartoons in question are all too easy to interpret as gratuitous insults against Islam and therefore against the almost 9% of the French population that are Muslim. Nonetheless, murder is incompatible with stable society. The latter being prima facie true, the next question is, What alternatives were available to those who were/are disgusted by the Charlie Hebdo caricatures? Lawsuits for defamation have been repeatedly filed. Some are still ongoing. However, to date, none have stopped the magazine’s demeaning ways. Well-organized public protests combined with steady political pressure might work in the long run. It was perhaps because such an effort was not forthcoming, at least not consistently, that action defaulted to emotionally driven individual fanatics.

        By the way, Charlie Hebdo, with its own brand of fanaticism, is what you might call an equal opportunity defamer. Topics ranging from the Catholic Church to Italians killed in earthquakes have been depicted in distasteful, sometimes semi-pornographic fashion. As it stands, the right to publish gratuitously insulting cartoons is not only legal in France but, because of all the related violence, also now defended as an important expression of French national culture. To make this point clear, French officials have announced the publication of a booklet to include the Charlie Hebdo images. This will be “handed out to high school students as a commitment to defend the values of the Republic.”

    • Freedom of Information/Freedom of the Press

      • Secondary Targets: When You Can’t Punish a Journalist, Family Will Do Just Fine

        Even 4,300 kilometers away, people close to the Iranian government still try to intimidate her.

        Messages threatening harm to loved ones are just one of the tactics that Iran and other authoritarian regimes use to try to harass journalists who report from afar.

        Iran’s jailing earlier this year of VOA Persian TV host Masih Alinejad’s brother brought the risks to reporters’ families close to home.

    • Civil Rights/Policing

      • Grad Workers’ Strike Shows Labor Why It Must Become Abolitionist
      • What Should We Do Now?

        We, on the left,  also need a program that combines economic, racial,  gender and environmental justice with real organizing and popular education that is truly national and includes small towns and rural areas and is ongoing. This is necessary and cannot start a year or less before the election.  The millions  who didn’t vote, one-third of the voting age population,  are even more important to talk  with and reach out to than those who voted for Trump. Your thoughts?

        From the exit polls, the majority of white women voted for Trump as did a slight increase in the proportion of Latinx, from 30% in 2016 to 33%-34 % in 2020. This small increase for Trump is sometimes exaggerated. Moreover, there was  a 2/3 increase in Latinx turnout which is a major  cause of Biden winning Arizona and Nevada and probably also, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The Native American vote was also central to Biden and Harris  winning in  Arizona.

      • “I Need That Pardon”: Ronnie Long, Free After 44 Years, Demands Justice for His Wrongful Conviction

        “It’s a blessing within itself for me to even be sitting here right now,” says Ronnie Long, free after 44 years behind bars for a crime he did not commit. Long, who is African American, was convicted in 1976 of raping a white woman by an all-white jury and sentenced to 80 years in prison. In 2015, his lawyers learned that investigators had withheld exculpatory evidence proving his innocence — including semen samples and fingerprints taken from the crime scene that did not match his own — and witnesses for the state committed perjury at his trial. It would take several more years and a ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for Long to win his freedom. Long walked out of the Albemarle Correctional Institute in North Carolina a free man on August 27. He is asking North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper for a pardon, which would fully clear his name and make him eligible for financial compensation. “You’ve got people that have been victimized by the system, like myself, and then you turn around and you put me back into a society and expect for me to live a productive life,” he says. “I need that pardon in order to try to get on with my life.”

      • Appeals Court Says Baltimore PD’s Aerial Surveillance Program Doesn’t Violate The Constitution

        The Baltimore PD can still use its flying spies, says the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The aerial surveillance program — first “introduced” on accident in 2016 — allows the PD to track the movement of people across the entire city, thanks to high-powered cameras mounted on airplanes. The surveillance system (created by Persistent Surveillance Systems) can capture 32-square miles. People and vehicles are reduced to pixels despite the power of the 192-million-megapixel cameras, but combining this footage with street-level surveillance allows the PD to deanonymize moving pixels observed near crime scenes.

      • The Impresarios of Trent

        Among the more unpleasant mythemes that one group of humans has devised about another is the blood libel: the claim that Jews murder Christian children, often around Easter, and use their blood in Passover rituals. Bits and pieces of this myth date back to ancient times. The Greek world produced some sinister stories about Jews annually fattening a Greek in their temples for sacrifice. And the New Testament (Acts 7:51–53) and the Quran (2:87) have cast Jews as persecutors and murderers of prophets. But the specific ingredients of the blood libel—innocent children murdered by conspiratorial Jews for blood rituals—were not baked into narrative until a child’s corpse was discovered in 12th century England and an enterprising monk accused the local Jewish community of murder. That first accusation sputtered out, but others soon followed in France and Germany that sometimes resulted in the execution of entire communities. With the invention of the printing press, the myth spread even more widely, throughout Eastern Europe and, with colonialism, into the Middle East and beyond. In the 20th century, there was even a genre of postcards depicting Jews draining the blood from young Christian boys.

      • The real 2020 election scandal: voter theft targeting Black people, youth
      • State investigators refuse to open criminal case over Russian journalist’s self-immolation

        The Nizhny Novgorod Region’s branch of the Investigative Committee has refused to launch a criminal case on incitement or inducement to suicide over the death of local journalist Irina Slavina, who self-immolated on October 2.

      • Russian Supreme Court dissolves anti-corruption political party led by Putin’s cousin

        Russia’s Supreme Court has dissolved the political party “People Against Corruption” just months after President Vladimir Putin’s cousin, Roman Putin, became its chairman.

      • There Are More People Being Displaced Than Ever Before

        I saw them for only a few seconds. One glimpse and they were gone. The young woman wore a brown headwrap, a yellow short-sleeved shirt, and a long pink, red, and blue floral-patterned skirt. She held the reins of the donkey pulling her rust-pink cart. Across her lap lay an infant. Perched beside her at the edge of the metal wagon was a young girl who couldn’t have been more than eight. Some firewood, rugs, woven mats, rolled-up clothing or sheets, a dark green plastic tub, and an oversized plastic jerry can were lashed to the bed of the cart. Three goats tied to the rear of it ambled along behind.

      • Egyptian women speak up about sex crimes

        But the progress was largely illusory. Take the alleged gang rape, which was reportedly recorded by the attackers. It took weeks of campaigning by activists before the Public Prosecution Office moved, allowing some of the suspects to flee the country. Five men have since been arrested; at least two suspects are still at large. Three of the men arrested have been charged with rape, which they deny. Absurdly, the authorities also charged four people who came forward as witnesses (and two of their acquaintances) with violating laws on “morality” and “debauchery”. The media have characterised the incident as a “group sex party”, smearing all involved, including the alleged victim. This has had a chilling effect: once-vocal women have gone into hiding.

        After Ms Khamees was turned away by the police, she broadcast her accusations on TikTok, an app for sharing short videos, where she had more than 100,000 followers. Days after the video went viral, the police picked up the entire group who had been partying with her that night. The authorities seemed as concerned with their use of hash and the mixing of unmarried men and women, as with Ms Khamees’s claim that a man had held a razor to her face and raped her. Her attackers (she accused a group of people of facilitating the rape) were charged with rape and other offences. But Ms Khamees was also charged—with prostitution, drug use and “violating family values”. Only after she completed a programme to “correct her concepts” were the charges against her dropped.

    • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

      • Colorado Voters Continue To Peck Away At State Law Restricting Community Broadband

        We’ve long mentioned how incumbent ISPs like AT&T and Comcast have spent millions of dollars quite literally buying shitty, protectionist laws in around twenty states that either ban or heavily hamstring towns and cities from building their own broadband networks. In some cases these laws ban municipalities from even engaging in public/private partnerships. It’s a scenario where ISPs get to have their cake and eat it too; they often refuse to upgrade their networks in under-served areas (particularly true among telcos offering DSL), but also get to write shitty laws preventing these under-served towns from doing anything about it.

    • Digital Restrictions (DRM)

      • Hulu to Increase Price of Live TV Offering

        When streaming live TV bundles first became prevalent, they promised to offer the channels that people wanted to watch without a restrictive or expensive cable subscription. But these services have had to consistently raise their prices as they have added more channels to their bundles.

        The price increase means that Hulu + Live TV will soon cost the same as YouTube TV, which implemented its own price hike earlier this year. There are cheaper options still available. Sling TV, for instance, offers bundles starting at $30 per month, but the lineup of channels is smaller than those found in the Hulu or YouTube plans.

    • Monopolies

      • The Law Bytes Podcast, Episode 70: “It’s Massive Free Distribution” – Village Media’s Jeff Elgie on Why His Company Opposes Lobbying Efforts to Establish a Licence for Linking to News Stories

        Global News, Letting Tech Giants Like Facebook Regulate Themselves ‘Simply not Working’ Says Minister

      • Google anti-trust case likely to fizzle out like a damp squib

        The anti-trust suit filed by the US against Google in October is unlikely to make any progress, judging by the kind of people whom US president-elect Joe Biden is taking onboard as part of his transition team and also in technology roles.

      • Patents

        • EPO clarifies reasons for CRISPR patent ruling [Ed: No, there is no "right" to patent and monopolise nature/life]

          The European Patent Office (EPO) has now clarified its reasoning behind the decision to find against the Broad Institute of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the latest round of a major patent dispute concerning rights to commercialise the revolutionary gene editing technology CRISPR.

          In January 2020, the European Patent Office’s Board of Appeal (BoA) ruled that a European patent owned by the Broad Institute be revoked after it dismissed the institution’s claims over its patent’s priority date.

          The EPO has now issued its long-awaited written reasoning behind this decision.

          Usually, a patent’s filing date is the date at which its validity is assessed. Sometimes, however, the patent may claim an earlier date, the priority date, from a previous patent application disclosing the invention.

        • Guide to ViCo at the EPO [Ed: This does not mention that “ViCo at the EPO” is an illegal practice]

          Facing up to the challenges that social distancing and travel restriction bring the European Patent Office (EPO), like many organisations and businesses in 2020, has introduced video conferencing (ViCo) as an important means to facilitate communication.

          On 10 November 2020, a Decision of the President of the EPO was issued indicating that from 04 January 2021, opposition oral proceedings will be held by ViCo unless serious reasons prevent the use of ViCo. Where there are such “serious reasons”, oral proceedings will be postponed until after 15 September 2021. Consent from all parties is no longer required.

          According to a corresponding EPO Notice on 10 November 2020, the “serious reasons” may include reasons relating to a participant to the oral proceedings as an individual, for example, a proven visual impairment that prevents a representative from following oral proceedings on screen, and reasons related to the nature and subject-matter of the proceedings, for example, where a demonstration or inspection of an object where the haptic features are essential, to the extent that this is possible in the current climate. Notably the EPO has indicated that “Sweeping objections against the reliability of videoconferencing technology or the non-availability of videoconferencing equipment will, as a rule, not qualify as serious reasons”. Where a request for an in-person hearing is refused, the parties will be informed of the reasons but such a refusal is not separately appealable.

          The EPO has explained that this change in practice is “with a view to guaranteeing effective access to justice and to avoid a continuous increase in the number of unresolved oppositions”.

      • Copyrights

        • Can Open GLAM Reshape the Fashion Heritage Narrative?

          Bringing together 250 participants from 38 countries on four continents— from museum professionals to fashion design students all the way to big fashion brands—the event was an opportunity to have important conversations about the benefits of open access and the challenges of bringing equity, diversity and inclusion into the policies and practices of fashion heritage institutions and the fashion universe more generally. The symposium’s program spanned two days and comprised presentations, roundtables, and a hands-on workshop. 

        • Upload Filters And The Internet Architecture: What’s There To Like?

          In August 2012, YouTube briefly took down a video that had been uploaded by NASA. The video, which depicted a landing on Mars, was caught by YouTube’s Content ID system as a potential copyright infringement case but, like everything else NASA creates, it was in the public domain. Then, in 2016, YouTube’s automated algorithms removed another video, this time a lecture by a Harvard Law professor, which included snippets of various songs ranging from 15 to roughly 40 seconds. Of course, use of copyright for educational purposes is perfectly legal. Examples of unwarranted content takedowns are not limited to only these two. Automated algorithms have been responsible for taking down perfectly legitimate content that relates to marginalized groups, political speech or the mere existence of information that relates to war crimes. 

        • 42,800+ ‘BitTorrent Pirates’ Targeted By Copyright Trolls in Sweden in 2020

          In 2020, Sweden has maintained its position as a priority target for companies aiming to extract cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates. Data released by ISP Bahnhof reveals that thus far this year, copyright holders have demanded the personal details of Internet users behind 42,869 IP addresses. Once again, Telia is responsible for the majority of data handed over.

        • Twitch Continues To Trip Over Itself In Response To DMCA Apocalypse

          What a few weeks for Twitch. You will recall that the platform went about pissing a ton of its talent and viewers off by nuking a metric ton of video content on the site in response to a flood of DMCA takedown notices, most of them from the RIAA. And this truly was the nuclear option, far different from the notice/counternotice system most platforms use. In fact, it was so extraordinary that it arguably lost Twitch its DMCA safe harbor. Regardless, when the company then followed up with a message to all Twitch creators that they should go educate themselves on matters of copyright and proactively delete any recordings or clips that might run afoul of copyright law, it created a cluster-fuck with virtually nobody having any idea how or what they should be doing. In response to the turmoil, Twitch brilliantly rolled out an announcement for a new emoji.

Regaining Control Over Infrastructure With Decentralisation and Trusted Encryption

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux at 11:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Clown computing isn’t about security but lack of it (you’ve been compromised the moment you migrated to ‘the clown’)

Cloud Mass / rain is coming

Summary: Considering some recent developments in the GnuPG project, there are growing reasons for concern; recently we’ve been studying what alternatives to it already exist and are sufficiently mature; there are other betrayals or cases of divergence from a strict trust model and the issue needs to be brought up a lot more often

SOME of ours readers are security folks. They mostly agree with what we’ve published about conflating “fake trust” (authorisation from monopolies) with the user’s trust (in effect not outsourcing trust to some dodgy, military-connected firms) and the idea that encryption between node and server (e.g. Facebook user and Facebook servers) is somehow “privacy”, never mind if Facebook abuses all the data it gathers and moreover sells this data. This isn’t privacy. This is a joke. The media helps these monopolies mislead the public, leaving people utterly confused about what privacy even means. Google says it’s improving GMail privacy/security while harvesting, scanning and sharing with governments contents of E-mails. Is that privacy? Microsoft puts back doors in Windows (there’s evidence), but at the same time it claims to deliver “security updates”. What does security mean in this context? National security? As in US access to all of the files and communications of innocent people? Even on their own desktop/laptop?

But that’s where it gets even worse. Years ago the father of Linus Torvalds said very publicly that his son had been asked by the NSA to put back doors in Linux. Not only did the son not deny this; he turned a question about it into a joke, refusing to explain if he agreed or not. This is no way to establish or regain trust.

Bison comingRecently, in light of the Guix petition, we’ve received some mail alarming us about GnuPG (it is among the signatures there, in effect seeking the ousting of Richard Stallman from the GNU Project — a project that he founded).

“GnuPG is showing signs of compromise by outsiders,” a reader recently told us. “I think we need to start looking at alternatives before the spyware starts to (inevitably) creep in. If [Werner] Koch can accommodate Yubico, he can accommodate the NSA and friends.”

The Yubico Authenticator is developed on Microsoft (NSA/PRISM) servers with proprietary software and the product itself isn’t trustworthy; it's proprietary itself. Yubikey is expensive snakeoil which raises the access barrier, both technically and fiscally (how many in poor African countries would shed a grand or two for a bunch of glorified “keys”?). Who stands to benefit? Probably the deep-pocketed (state-subsidised) surveillance giants that have redefined “security” and “privacy” their own way (they want us to assume they’re guardians of both, not agents or facilitators of digital imperialism).

In the coming days we shall be writing about, then exploring, a plethora of alternatives. They do exist, not many people use these, and the media certainly isn’t giving them the publicity they deserve. A lot of media coverage is nowadays up for sale; those who raise more money can dominate publishers or even so-called ‘influencers’ in social control media (to get paid-for ‘endorsements’).

Inside the EPO During Corona: The Hoax ‘Study’ From Campinos and Donald Trump Associate (Mercer) Debunked, EPO Management Uninterested Because Facts Are Inconvenient

Posted in Deception, Europe, Patents at 8:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Today’s EPO, Europe’s second-largest institution, rejects science and facts

Campinos in Oktoberfest 2018

Summary: The Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) highlights the degree of shamelessness, audacity and the sheer nerve EPO administration now has; when objectively refuted and presented with evidence to show that it is wrong the management responds “with mere hand-waving”

BACK in summer a document outlining the flaws in the so-called ‘study’ about the EPO‘s financial situation was preceded by this concise text:

The EPO’s financial situation has always been good, and right now it is excellent. Financial studies claiming the contrary are usually a prelude for cuts in staff benefits. The 2019 study by Mercer and Wyman is no exception.

Although the EPO’s currently makes a budget surplus of about €400m /year (20% of the budget), Mercer and Wyman predict an overall €3.8bn deficit by 2038 and endorse the President’s suggestion to add a €1.9-2bn “buffer” when closing the alleged gap.

The principal means planned to fill the alleged gap will be a reform of the annual adjustment method for the staff’s salaries and pensions. Ernst & Young has performed an analysis which fully confirmed our earlier findings. Comparing the key assumptions of the 2019 study with those of other EPO documents, Ernst & Young found that the 2019 study consistently took a more conservative approach. It is clear that the EPO has no deficit. On the contrary, under normal circumstances the EPO will continue to generate surpluses.

The EPO already has an operating surplus of about €400m/year. What is the President planning to do with the additional €2bn that he plans to save on the back of staff by changing the salary adjustment method?

As we noted earlier this week, Benoît Battistelli and António Campinos basically gamble — for personal gain — with billions of euros of money that the EPO’s isn’t even supposed to hoard. It’s a massive scandal waiting to break out (the corporate media is too full of cowards and too corruptible to make this a front page story).

The full document reads as follows:

su20028cp – 0.2.1/4.2.1/0.3.2

Background to the Ernst & Young analysis

The EPO’s financial situation has always been good, and right now it is excellent. Financial studies claiming the contrary are usually a prelude for cuts in staff benefits. The 2019 study by Mercer and Wyman is no exception. Although the EPO’s currently makes a budget surplus of about €400m /year (20% of the budget), Mercer and Wyman predict an overall €3.8bn deficit by 2038 and endorse the President’s suggestion to add a €1.9-2bn “buffer” when closing the alleged gap. The principal means planned to fill the alleged gap will be a reform of the annual adjustment method for the staff’s salaries and pensions1,2.

Deaf ears
SUEPO and the Staff Committee quickly pointed out that there are major flaws in the 2019 financial study3. Representatives of the EPO pensioners’ association did the same4. Assuming that expenditure continues to rise with no increase in income – as Mercer and Wyman did for the EPO – is unrealistic and leads to dire predictions for any organisation. But the President and the delegates in the Administrative Council clearly did not want to listen.

Heading for a conflict
We expect the Administrative Council to approve the new salary adjustment method in their upcoming meeting. If so, then the only route to challenge that decision will be legal, with the ILO-AT as the final instance. Like the Council, ILO-AT is more inclined to listen to the EPO’s administration than to EPO staff. The staff representation is not heard at all – neither the Staff Committee nor SUEPO have any standing at ILO-AT. We therefore wanted to have a professional counter-study to provide staff with authoritative support in the complaints that will inevitably follow an unfavorable decision by the Council.

What were the conditions?
Our first approach to Ernst & Young was met with hesitancy to accept the mandate. It was made clear to us that they would not comment on the EPO study other than on the basis of solid documentary evidence available in the public domain. For that, they proposed to compare the assumptions used in the 2019 study with those used in the 2016 study by Deloitte and other data sources published by the EPO. We agreed to this proposal since it increases the credibility of the analysis. But Ernst & Young also demanded very stringent use restrictions that we could not accept. After intense discussions we agreed on a

1 The SUEPO Salary Simulator estimates your personal financial loss. In a video we look back at the last months and explain the impact of the new method on our future salaries and pensions.
2 “The Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) – Timeline”, su20026cp, 19.05.2020. This paper provides an overview of what happened over the last months.
3 The Financial Study: Yet Another Hoax (sc19070cp, sc19071cp, sc19076cp and sc19081cp)
4 Letter to the AC by the EPO Pensioners’ Association, ex19151cl, 26.11.2019

compromise: copies of the document can be given to the EPO’s President, the Vice-Presidents, the Council delegates and various other political actors as well as ILO-AT, but we have no permission to publish the document on the SUEPO websites and our members are to be given protected read-on access only.

The results
Even with their very stringent approach (requiring contradictory published EPO documents or obvious methodological flaws, before commenting), Ernst & Young fully confirmed our earlier findings5. Comparing the key assumptions of the 2019 study with those of other EPO documents, Ernst & Young found that the 2019 study consistently took a more conservative approach.

Ernst & Young estimated what they called the “illustrative impact” of those highly conservative assumptions. Their main findings are the following:

- more realistic assumptions (in line with those of the RFPPS actuaries) for the contribution levels to the RFPSS and the EPOTIF reduce the alleged gap by €2.3bn
- more realistic assumptions of the return on the RFPPS and EPOTIF assets in line with other EPO documents reduce the gap by €4.0bn,
- taking into account expected future income from patents existing in 2038 (omitted in the 2019 study) reduces the alleged gap by €4.7bn,
- assuming that EPO internal fees will rise with inflation (rather than stay constant until 2038) reduces the gap by €1.6bn.
- Ernst & Young further pointed out a methodological error in the 2019 study that inflates the gap by €1.3bn.

The conclusion …
Ernst & Young warned us that the above amounts cannot simply be added up because some are interdependent. Nevertheless, it is clear that the EPO has no deficit. On the contrary, under normal circumstances the EPO will continue to generate surpluses. We note that the EPO did not communicate its alleged gap outside the EPO. The external auditors who assess the financial situation of the EPO every year see no gap needing urgent action. The same applies to the actuaries of the RFPSS. The systematic bias towards unrealistically high levels of caution in the 2019 financial study and the purely internal communication show the clear intention of the EPO to convince staff that there is a financial gap where there is none for the purpose of reducing staff benefits.

… and a question
This nevertheless leaves us with the old question: cui bono? As indicated above, the EPO already has an operating surplus of about €400m/year.

What is the President planning to do with the additional €2bn that he plans to save on the back of staff by changing the salary adjustment method?

SUEPO Central

5 “Selected analyses by Ernst & Young of the 2019 Financial Study of the European Patent Office”, su20025cp, 19.05.2020. SUEPO members can ask for access to the Ernst & Young analysis by sending an email to requestaccessreport@suepo.org including full name and place of employment.

Not so long afterwards SUEPO also wrote to the management — in an open letter to Campinos and his friend (whom he gave a high-paying job):

10 June 2020
su20030cl – 0.3.1

Open letter

To: President, VP4
Cc: AC delegations

Ernst & Young analysis of the 2019 Financial Study of the European Patent Office

Dear Mr Campinos,
Dear Ms Simon,

You have on various occasions criticized the analysis by Ernst & Young of the 2019 Financial Study.

More recently you seemed to focus on the indication “reliance restricted” which is written on the second page of the analysis by Ernst & Young. You seemed to imply that this indication renders the findings meaningless.

However, an indication which means in legal terms the same as “reliance restricted” can also be found in the Financial Study (CA/46/19, pages 133-134) and in the follow-up document (CA/83/19, page 235). Such an indication is indeed standard for external expert opinions. We cite:

“This report is not intended for general circulation or publication, nor is it to be reproduced, quoted or distributed for any purpose without the prior written permission of Oliver Wyman. There are no third party beneficiaries with respect to this report, and Oliver Wyman does not accept any liability to any third party (CA/46/19, page 132, §1 & CA/83/19, page 135, §1)

We resent the repeated attempts of the administration to discredit the Ernst & Young analysis. We are still waiting for serious comments on the substance of the analysis. The findings of Ernst & Young, confirming earlier observations by SUEPO, staff representation and by the pensioners’ association, raise serious questions about the actions taken by the administration during the last year in order to reform the salary adjustment method, which cannot be dismissed with mere hand-waving.

Also in order to avoid a protracted legal battle, we urge you to enter into a discussion on the substance of the matter with the aim of reaching a solution appropriate under current circumstances and which is acceptable to staff.

Sincerely yours,
SUEPO Central

In their message to staff they said: “we addressed Mr Campinos and Ms Simon (VP4) to urge them to enter into a discussion on the substance…” (echoing the above)

The staff is being told that much of the blame should be put squarely on Campinos and his friend. “Mr Campinos and Ms Simon (VP4),” they say, “have on various occasions criticized the analysis by Ernst & Young of the 2019 Financial Study on purely formal aspects.”

What do Mr Campinos and Ms Simon even know about studies? Have they ever conducted any? They’re not scientists and they don’t study anything. They’re just propagandists in formal clothing and no sense of shame.

SUEPO’s EPO Staff Survey: Confidence in Staff Representatives at All-Time High and Confidence in EPO President at Only 3%

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Three soda drinkers: European panzer office

Summary: Early preview following a staff survey showed how awful things had become at the Office even after two years with the supposedly ‘nice’ and ‘improved’ President (he’s even less popular than his predecessor at equivalent periods of the presidency)

“Preliminary results of the 2020 EPO Staff Survey (run by Technologia),” SUEPO wrote, “are available in English and French.” That was quite some time ago. We already wrote about some of the findings back in summer, taking note of the fact that Benoît Battistelli‘s record after two years at the EPO (Office) was better than that of António Campinos, judging by what staff thought of him (same survey). Under normal circumstances such appalling approval rates would necessitate or make an impeachment imperative. For the EPO’s very survival

“There’s more than one “orange dictator”, but European media cares only about Trump’s violations of the law…”Right now Campinos fights against the survival of the EPO. He makes it a vastly less attractive workplace, he plans to lay off many more employees, and he keeps breaking the law while smiling to the cameras. Sort of like Donald Trump. There’s more than one "orange dictator", but European media cares only about Trump’s violations of the law…

Here’s what SUEPO wrote about early findings from the Technologia staff survey:

26 May 2020

Preliminary results of the 2020 EPO Staff Survey (run by Technologia)

Dear SUEPO members, dear colleagues,

The 2020 Staff Survey is now complete. Thanks to all of you who participated despite all the difficulties generated by the current pandemic!

Some preliminary results are available in English and French.

Final results and analysis will follow in due course.

As you know, this year’s survey asked the same questions as the previous surveys conducted in 2010, 2013 and 2016 in order to be able to reliably compare the results.

Although we are waiting for Technologia’s full evaluation, it is already clear that our collective working experience at the EPO has not improved over the past four years. The trend is worrying.

We thank you for your trust and support. Be assured of our commitment to trying to improve the situation.

SUEPO Central

Here are the slides/deck in English:

SUEPO survey 0

SUEPO survey 1

SUEPO survey 2

SUEPO survey 3

SUEPO survey 4

SUEPO survey 5

SUEPO survey 6

SUEPO survey 7

SUEPO survey 8

SUEPO survey 9

SUEPO survey 10

SUEPO survey 11

SUEPO survey 12

SUEPO survey 13

Later on SUEPO would shed/share further pertinent details.

Inside the EPO During Corona: Half a Year Ago EPO Management Was a ‘Superspreader’ of COVID-19 and It Broke the Law Regarding Masks

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related (June): EPO 2020 Vision: Billions for Gambling, No Money for Masks (for Staff’s Safety)

Some droplets

Summary: The EPO ‘droplets’ have been spreading due to misguided, unscientific (some might say anti-scientific) EPO management; staff was pressured to come back to office premises and there were clear labour as well as privacy violations, not just Health and Safety violations

THE management of the EPO belittled the crisis. This is no secret. We still routinely see an unmasked António Campinos sitting next to colleagues. They proudly advertise photos of such violations. But just like Benoît Battistelli, Campinos is exempted from the law. Nobody will be arrested at the EPO, but ‘bad’ judges will be dragged out of their offices if the Office President doesn’t like them. If, for example, they speak out about corruption…

EPO maskThis is no joking matter. We’ve written a great deal about the seriousness of this virus, which is having a ‘second go’ at Europe and is arguably outpacing the so-called ‘First Wave’, in some countries more than in others.

“Nobody will be arrested at the EPO, but ‘bad’ judges will be dragged out of their offices if the Office President doesn’t like them.”This brings us to today’s disclosure of an internal document, composed by actual scientists who actually do work for the Office (not doing Webchats on premises of the Office for lousy, self-promotional photos ops in the EPO’s Web site).

Here is what the Central Staff Committee published just under 6 months ago, noting that “the President announces that in the near future Office occupancy will be capped at some low level (20% to 50%) by massively using teleworking. Beyond possible issues with the Contracting States, this de facto constitute an implicit departure from Article 55a(1) ServRegs providing that employees shall normally perform their work on the Office’s premises. Consultation in the COHSEC and the GCC is a must.”

“In addition,” they noted, “you should be aware that the Office has objectively more interest in pushing you into “voluntary” rather than “mandatory” teleworking because it can more easily shift the responsibility and operational risk onto your shoulders, including the risk and consequences of not reaching set objectives.”

Here is the full publication in HTML form:

Munich 20.05.2020

Gradual return to EPO buildings

Dear colleagues,

On 11 May 2020 the President made an announcement informing us of a gradual return to EPO buildings. A few days later a further announcement described which concrete measures would be introduced to ensure a safe return.

We have already published a paper (“Working from home in times of Coronavirus”) which explains some basic principles concerning the relationship between an employer and its employees. As the Office appears to be now entering a new phase of working we think it is now time to revisit these principles.

The Office’s premises

Firstly, the Office is not a workplace like any other, be it a private company or even another International Organisation. It has been established within the framework of the EPC to take over from national patent offices the task of granting European patents, i.e. bundles of national patents, for the Contracting States1. To that effect, the states have decided that those tasks should normally be performed by civil servants on the Office’s premises. The introduction of large-scale teleworking would seem to question the validity of this, all the more so if staff are working in locations outside the host countries. In our view, the Contracting States must discuss any fundamental departure from this basic understanding2.

Article 55a(1) ServRegs3 codifies the above and directly regulates your working conditions. Moreover, it is a safe bet that when you took up your official duties you assumed that you would be predominantly working on the Office’s premises.

Now, the President announces that in the near future Office occupancy will be capped at some low level (20% to 50%). This may be justified with duty of care. However, this does not change anything to the fact that you will be instructed to work predominantly at a location other than the Office’s premises. This is a back-door change to your conditions of

1 See e.g. Articles 2 and 4 EPC
2 See Article 33 EPC (and possibly Article 172 EPC)
3 Article 55a(1) ServRegs: “Permanent employees in active employment shall normally perform their work on the Office’s premises.”

employment disguised as a sanitary measure, for which statutory consultation is mandatory4.

To wrap it up, the announced measures de facto constitute an implicit departure from the statutory provision of Article 55a(1) ServRegs. Consultation in the COHSEC and the GCC is a must. Failing this, all negative consequences directly deriving from the changes will be illegal.

We think it is high time now for the President to cease ignoring our repeated requests for involvement and consultation.

“Mandatory” teleworking vs ”voluntary” teleworking

You might have the impression that management has been trying to make you forget that working on Office premises is the default option, for which you do not need any authorisation since the President has never closed them5. Teleworking has been presented as a possibility generously proposed to you on an individual basis. The scheme was probably so widely successful until now for reasons linked to the pandemic surge, e.g. because so many staff members had to stay home to take care of small children or relatives.

The initial attractiveness of the scheme will probably wear out. Staff will feel the need to come more often to the Office and line management will have to make decisions, resorting to issuing “instructions to work from home again” or “strongly urging” their staff to do so.

Until now the Office has consistently blurred the distinction between mandatory and voluntary teleworking, with a clear preference for the latter as it has been announced that “mandatory” teleworking should only apply to three very limited medical indications.

As explained in our first paper, “mandatory” teleworking means that you have been forced, or “strongly urged” to work from home. Because the relationship between the Office and you is based on mutual trust and good faith, you are then expected to take reasonable measures, or make “best efforts”, to try to mitigate the consequences of the order to stay home. Nothing more, nothing less. In particular, the order does not commit you to reaching the objectives set by management.

Conversely, “voluntary” teleworking means that you have still the right to come to the premises. It is convenient for the Office in that it can more easily shift the responsibility and operational risk onto your shoulders, including the risk and consequences of not reaching set objectives. Some directors in DG1 have already instructed their line managers to “hold discussions” with those having a productivity level below that planned

4 See also Article 55a(2) ServRegs: “The President of the Office may, after consulting the relevant joint committee, establish implementing instructions allowing employees to perform their duties at a location other than the Office’s premises.”
5 Of course the President could forbid you to come on its premises, either on an individual basis or on a collective basis. You are then obliged to obey this injunction. In the House Rules: “The right to grant or refuse access to the premises is exercised by the President and those to whom the President has delegated this authority, in particular the site managers and security staff.”

before the pandemic. No doubt that this will also play a role when line management assesses your performance for 2020.

In conclusion, you should be aware that the Office has objectively more interest in pushing you into “voluntary” rather than mandatory teleworking. If you believe that your teleworking is not actually “voluntary”, you must insist on receiving clear written instructions from your line management (e.g. an instruction to work from home or a formal prohibition to access the Office’s premises)6.

Some concrete measures

Most of the announced concrete measures appear reasonable. However, two should be singled out for comment.

- The President has announced that “each staff member is responsible for providing their own mask”. This is petty-minded and illegal, because the employer is legally obliged to provide masks in order to discharge its duty of care. In addition, it also appears reasonable from a hygienic viewpoint to avoid the proliferation in the Office of different masks of uncontrolled provenance and uncertain protective effect. Deciding which type of mask to wear should not be the responsibility of individual staff members.

We therefore recommend that you contact Health & Safety (H&S) to obtain a mask if you need one, as advocated in the announcement. It appears that H&S has been instructed to provide masks only “if you are asked by your line manager to come to work at EPO premises”7. We recall that you are entitled to come to work unless you are on mandatory teleworking.

- The President has announced the completion of a mandatory e-learning course as a precondition for coming to the Office premises. In view of the obvious importance of this module, we suggest that it should be available in all three official languages.

Stay healthy.

The Central Staff Committee

6 See Article 20(2) ServRegs:
7 Management argues that there is no need for the Office to provide masks, as staff is not forced to come back to the Office!

Changing rules requires consultation with and approval from contracting states and definitely from staff that never consented to such changes. But the EPO is like a monarchy and its management is just making up the rules as it goes along, and we know in whose favour.

As the representatives moreover point out, about failure to provide masks to staff: “This is petty-minded and illegal, because the employer is legally obliged to provide masks in order to discharge its duty of care.”

Illegal, but who will hold EPO managers accountable? Nobody.

Nobody was ever held accountable for the EPO’s ‘suicide wave’ and some of those responsible are still in positions of power, still intimidating staff into censorship and self-censorship.

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