04.16.21

The EFF Attacks Software Freedom and Promotes Fake Privacy Linked to Microsoft

Posted in Deception, EFF, Microsoft at 5:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

EFF MicrosoftSummary: Only weeks after attacking Software Freedom (the ad hominem way, which is easier) the EFF endorses a Microsoft-linked privacy abuse, misframing it as some sort of privacy champion

THE EFF has been hugely disappointing in recent years. It attacked some prominent journalists and bloggers, it gave awards to Microsoft employees (who attack privacy), and it now promotes a Microsoft-linked privacy scam called DuckDuckGo, even twice in 2 days [1, 2]. The EFF should really know better, but maybe it’s just into money (like the money it raises from privacy abusers) instead of principles.

“Pentagon-funded corporations funnel some of their money to the EFF.”Yesterday the EFF also spoke about “due process”, but the EFF does not truly believe in that either. That’s why it’s attacking the FSF and relaying defamation for trial by (social control) media. It’s actively attacking Software Freedom while today’s EFF staff promotes censorship, Apple Macs, and all sorts of “apps” that are proprietary software. It’s almost heart-breaking to see what the EFF has turned into, as I know people who used to donate to the EFF, which is now promoting fake ‘privacy’ by liaising with a Microsoft proxy (past EFF donors were GNU/Linux users). If the EFF is working for Microsoft proxies, what message does that send to past and present donors? That’s even worse than Startpage. Since the founder of the EFF died (one of 3 founders but nevertheless the leading person) the EFF has been a total catastrophe, living or milking off its past reputation. It has more than $40,000,000 in the bank and it seems like it’s looking for more money in all the wrong places. Does it even need donors anymore? Pentagon-funded corporations funnel some of their money to the EFF.

04.04.21

Has CC Become a Google Drone?

Posted in EFF, Free/Libre Software, Google at 5:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Last week: The Open Source Creative Commons: Code of CONduct

CC money
Full text of “Full Filing” for fiscal year ending Dec. 2018 (latest available in ProPublica)

CC funding
ProPublica’s archive on CC (IRS filings). Notice 2016.

CC wiki

An elephant in the room: Sharing is caring, Cancel FSF
Rather similar to what Google did to EFF

Summary: With financial losses but still many millions in the bank (owing to obscenely large contributions; see EFF) CC seems to be working against the people who played a role in its very existence

03.27.21

A Factual Timeline of Attempts to Pressure the FSF Into Submission (Not to Promote Real Community and Freedom)

Posted in Deception, EFF, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux at 1:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An objective (based on underlying facts) assessment of what has happened over the past 5 days; a lot of energy was spent getting angry over the wrong thing, usually based on misunderstandings

THIS is one of those in-depth and detailed analyses that attempt to be almost exhaustive. It’s an important subject, so we’ve devoted a lot of research time to getting it right (on the facts). We’ve included everything we’ve stumbled upon online (we exclude social control media as that just doesn’t count). The goal is to get the facts right. The tone will be mostly neutral. It’s not impulsive and it took nearly a week to prepare. The goal is to give exposure to all views, even those we do not agree with (people rarely share the same views), and then fact-check them. Thankfully, there’s much overlap in the fact-checking because the falsehoods tend to repeat themselves (like the echo chamber social control media tends to be). This generally makes rebuttal a lot more concise (less repeatable argumentation). Off we go, in chronological order for the most part. But first, a few introductory words…

Introduction and Some Background

“We can see who coordinated this, but we’ll come to that later… as we present the hard evidence.”As far as we’re aware, we were first to report in textual form about the return of Richard Stallman to the FSF’s Board. People who watched the live stream tipped us about it in IRC, whereupon we mentioned this in social control media and then wrote a post, which would be updated 3 times thereafter, attracting nearly 100,000 visitors and well over 1,000 comments. Artem then ripped the relevant part of the video, re-encoding it in open formats and sharing the link in IRC for us to use. Then, people could see what Stallman (referred to as RMS from here onwards) had said. What’s interesting is what soon followed; it even took RMS by surprise, based on what he told me, but this was foreseeable and pre-planned. We can see who coordinated this, but we’ll come to that later… as we present the hard evidence. Corrections in case of misunderstandings or misinterpretations can be reported to us. We’re always correcting posts if proven incorrect.

Before we proceed to dealing with the chronology, we’d like to share some input from readers. It is always our readers who motivate us to invest a lot of time properly analysing issues; without them, there would be no incentive to do so (it’s pro bono, gratis; I don’t get paid to do this!)

A Word From Readers

“First,” one reader told us, “I want to thank you for Techrights. What I appreciate is the research and the thoughtful manner in which you post and report. I realize you have been hit by corporate threats many times in the past. Microsoft, IBM etc. There are a lot of underhanded things going on in our community, and we don’t want to lose Techrights!”

This reader has been involved in the Free software community for 3 decades. She knows many of the original members of the GNU/Linux community. “Your publication is only one I know of giving equal time to the voices of free software,” she said. “When Stallman was accused, I received several messages and emails (collab) warning as to not speak of the matter and distance ourselves – the initiator was someone who was at the OSI for over 15 years. I ignored the warnings. My future career was threatened and I know, this person was not the threat but… relaying the potential consequence of speaking out for RMS.”

We’ve repeatedly noted over the past week that you may not stumble upon many statements in support of RMS not because people do not support him but because they’re reluctant/afraid to speak out. To put it crudely, they’re censored or compelled to self-censor. Hours ago we were told that in Matrix people can get banned for speaking out in support of RMS — same thing that happened in 2019! We now hear stories about employers banning employees from expressing support for RMS/FSF, not because they hate him/them (respectively) but because the ‘online mob’ scares the businesses. They target businesses too, in a collateral damage/collective punishment fashion. It’s not pretty.

“Upon my decision to speak up,” (in support of RMS) the reader noted. “I lost a friend, and he sent me a very critical email where he criticized a post I made, to the capitalization of my name.”

“So, second. I realize the courage it takes… with so much to lose… to continue doing what you do, and I cannot express how important your work is/has been for a word lost in most other publications: community… I don’t have much to report on, I don’t have much to give. Now people know the Linux Foundation and OSI (among others) are not on the up and up as they once thought. Thank you for that!”

We’ve long noted that mainstream media, literally funded by those same corporations, never touches these subjects. At all. One can guess why. The same is true for EPO scandals because the EPO pays publishers to be complicit.

What Actually Happened

Not much happened last week. RMS returned to the Board of the FSF after a quick vote on the question/matter (that’s the actual news). Those who have followed us long enough probably weren’t surprised. RMS planned to come back at “the right time” and he was still involved in decisions up until now… albeit not at a public (or public-facing) capacity. One board member has since then left (Walsh), but given that another one was added (RMS) it’s probably OK. Large corporations have put massive pressure on the FSF and Walsh had voted against RMS returning. So in a sense this only strengthens the position of RMS inside the Board. Hours ago Mako-Hill (who left the Board in late 2019) shared his thoughts. A day or two after the announcement from RMS himself (“I have an announcement to make…”) the FSF updated the Web site with his name added to members of the Board. It then made a couple of statements to appease concerns politely expressed by some circles (such as KDE’s Board).

Now we move on. But before we do, let’s examine what actually happened and whether it was justified, based on the known (verifiable) facts. We should stress upfront that all those who said RMS was sexist because of a sign on his door basically relied on a prank (conned by a fake; circulated widely in social control media, never to be corrected or retracted) and media calling RMS “Epstein supporter” or anything similar was intentionally lying; that’s Bill Gates who supported Epstein. It was not RMS! In fact, RMS had called Epstein “rapist” for months prior to the ousting.

Finally, the Detailed Timeline

As noted above, we sort of ‘broke’ the news (in text, assuming IRC or a video stream do/does not count) and soon enough It’s FOSS wrote about it, unfortunately relaying the lie about the sign on the door at MIT (it was a prank). Some readers alerted us about this falsehood. Some time then passed and familiar (old) enemies of RMS re-emerged from the bushes, offering some more libel that they openly dished (we did a quick video rebuttal, hoping it was the end of that). The first ones to emerge were from a decade-long Microsoft booster, the person who shamelessly spread libel 18 months ago in ZDNet, and a publication formerly edited by Bill Gates himself (after he had spiked negative articles about him and caused the sacking of his exposers). We covered all this in the video, assuming this was the end of it all. But then rose an angry mob, emboldened by a bunch of mischaracterisations and outright lies about what RMS had actually said. We were unhappy to see this and started taking notes, recording every article or blog post about the matter. What follows is a complete list of our notes.

One speaker from LibrePlanet was not happy about the news. He’s entitled to that view. Whether it was based on facts or the above distortion in the media, who knows? Then, Microsoft-funded publishers amplified the news and OSI threw its hat, still reeling from its complete failure to even run an election (they could really use a distraction at that point). The community-led sites (not corporate front groups like OSI) were mostly positive about the news and prominent vloggers were happy. It was then that the Microsoft boosters (same as above) came back again with provocative distortions, shamelessly trying to remove RMS from the FSF and destroy the FSF in the process (collective punishment). They showed their cards. The same people who tried to cancel Linus Torvalds then ‘rallied the troops’ against RMS, basically getting a number of Debian Developers to get all upset (already several days after the actual news!). By that stage, the anti-RMS mob was already organising and inciting people, causing people to express views like this one and also upsetting people who had suffered abuse from that very same mob (same people, same methods). Sam Varghese wrote the first of about half a dozen posts inciting people against RMS (citing people from Microsoft!) and some conflated RMS interrupting a speaker to correct him/her with a threat to “safety” (we wrote many rebuttals to this false equivalence). We could still find more calm and objective coverage (Phoronix did not cover it at all; good way to stay focused, so well done, Michael Larabel), whereas Varghese egged on an angry mob. That FSFE joining in was hardly surprising given its role in 2019 and some of its funding sources. There’s an ongoing (albeit silent) feud between the FSF and FSFE, mostly about the name (we’ve exposed leaks to show this). Several developers spoke out against RMS [1, 2, 3], but those were mostly the same people from 2019 (Andy Wingo joined them a day later). They just re-emerged for another round. So their names were predictable. It’s a re-run in a sense. The corporate media soon rejoined with Varghese doing his one-sided coverage and Microsoft-funded media misrepresenting petitioners (calling people who oppose Free software the “free software community”). Those who actually do support Free software were often described as just “pro-RMS” as if it’s a cult of personalities and nothing more. We then saw the GNU Chinese Translators Team firmly behind RMS. Not many GNU developers dissented, except those who did so the last time. Some people even trolled mailing lists of GNU projects (links omitted for obvious reasons).

KDE’s Board issued a polite statement (which the FSF could amicably reply to with reassurances), whereas ZDNet kept boosting the angry mob, complete with the usual falsehoods (noted above already). As one might expect, the SFC took the same position as the last time, albeit it might be expected from a Google- and Microsoft-sponsored body (like SFC and FSFE). The actual users of GNU/Linux, including popular vloggers, were infuriated by what they called “Mob Mentality” although one prominent vlogger dissented (fair enough; we cannot always agree on everything). Some mainstream media falsely described some organisations as backing a petition just because some staff signed it (we’ve seen cases where institutions declined to sign it, but few members of staff did). By Thursday we’ve begun to see utter lies news sites, connecting RMS to Epstein. He blasted Epstein, unlike Bill Gates, who defended him. Later in the same day more of the same emerged [1, 2, 3] in media that is close to Gates and Microsoft. Sometimes with direct funding. Nice misdirection, we suppose… some readers described it as such. One site said (in the headline) that RMS is a “Scientist Who Defended Epstein,” but nothing could be further from the truth, based on the public record.

The EFF followed some staff that had ‘beef’ with RMS by publishing a blog post. Some people were enlisted by the GNOME Foundation (historically headed by people who later join Microsoft) to add their voices, possibly violating GNOME’s own Code of Conduct in the process (apparently leadership figures in GNOME are exempted from accountability/enforcement). Varghese said SUSE had joined, but there was no evidence like an official statement to back what he claimed. Anything to give an illusion of magnitude, we suppose (to make a loud minority seem a lot bigger than it actually was). Red Hat, which had not funded FSF for quite some time, pretended it was using financial sanctions while talking about the diversity of the FSF (Red Hat/IBM are even worse when it comes to that!). And guess which side Slashdot took, as opposed to Lunduke.

Drupal’s founder showed the effect of the misinformation. His description of what RMS said is borrowed from libellous reports, so the anger is basically based on a misunderstanding or media inciting him. A WordPress site did the same, misportraying (not by intention) what was going on. Many of these petitioners are not the “Free Software Community”; many people who attack RMS are typically those working for openwashing, including the OSI. Italo Vignoli (OSI) wrote something for TDF (Michael Meeks of LibreOffice appears to have changed his mind) and Varghese devotes all his time to amplifying what they said [1, 2], but we were starting to see statements in favour of RMS and the FSF outnumbering the rest, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4], not to mention this reactionary petition in GitHub (it can be signed from Codeberg as well and will inevitably outnumber the mobs’ petition in terms of number of signatures).

At the moment we’re seeing more blog posts in support of RMS than against him. The balance has changed and it seems like this whole thing is more or less over. RMS is still in the FSF’s Board. “And that’s how it is…” (to quote or paraphrase him). He won’t be resigning a second time…

Conclusions and Ways Forward

A later analysis of the petition commandeering the angry mob reveals:

Git shortlog (Top 10):

rms_cancel.git:
1170 Neil McGovern
204 Joan Touzet
46 Elana Hashman
41 Molly de Blanc

That says it all really, but affiliations matter as well. So let’s help readers understand this better.

“Imagine if all that energy was directed at opposing European software patents instead of the founder of GNU.”Hashman is OSI and Azure (Microsoft), McGovern and de Blanc are GNOME Foundation and OSI. Starting to get the picture? Those are the people managing and rallying the ‘troops’. Today’s OSI dedicates most of its budget to GitHub (Microsoft) and the GNOME Foundation’s former heads (before McGovern) are Microsoft employees. It’s important to remember that…

Some now accuse of the GNOME Foundation of cyberbullying or call for the resignation of the ‘coup leaders’ (“GNOME Board Members Must Resign In Disgrace”). They merely divided the community for personal gain. Nobody benefits from it, except maybe their ego.

Gates and EpsteinThe rest of this weekend will be devoted to exposing EPO corruption and other patent-related affairs. Imagine if all that energy was directed at opposing European software patents instead of the founder of GNU.

“The European Patent Office is a Corrupt, Malicious Organisation Which Should Not Exist”

Richard Stallman

01.28.21

The Electronic Frontier Foundation ‘Forgets’ Microsoft Monopoly, Focuses on ‘Oligopolies’ (or ‘Big Tech’)

Posted in Apple, EFF, Google, Microsoft at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is not advancing the goals it was renowned for a few years ago or a decade back; it’s worth discussing the reasons

THE decline of the EFF’s integrity was mentioned here a lot over the past couple of years (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). It eroded a great deal after the (co)founder and leader had died. The other EFF co-founders, John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor, are still alive. What are their thoughts on the status quo?

“It actively complements Microsoft lobbying and in the area of patents, as noted in the video, the EFF hardly does anything anymore.”The above video is a response to this new post/article from the EFF, perpetuating this ludicrous idea that Microsoft is no longer an issue and we should instead be concerned about “GAFA”. Given that Microsoft’s presence on the Web by far exceeds Apple’s, the inclusion of Apple and exclusion of Microsoft from the ‘shame list’ (“Big Tech”) is a tad suspicious, albeit not atypical. A lot of this “GAFA” stuff can be traced back to Microsoft lobbyists.

Mitch Kapor and John GilmoreIf the EFF is unable to criticise Microsoft and is instead granting awards to Microsoft employees, then the EFF is likely even worse than neutral. It actively complements Microsoft lobbying and in the area of patents, as noted in the video, the EFF hardly does anything anymore. Nothing substantial. That was vastly different a few years ago.

What happened to the EFF?

09.29.20

EFF: Sitting on a Massive Pile of Money and Members Are Less Than a Third of the Revenue

Posted in EFF, Finance at 4:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How much of an impact/sway/voice do pertinent members (individuals) have in the EFF?

EFF grants
Income and revenue disclosures. Several more millions go on top of that, making the total nearly $16 million (see below).

Summary: As part of our series which explores non-profits turning against their goals (sometimes in pursuit of money, even if that means sellout) we take a good look at the EFF in this age of unprecedented consolidation of wealth and power

THE FSF says that about half of its revenue comes from members. That’s not too bad compared to a bunch of other non-profits we’ve studied closely over the years. At the FSFE, by contrast, the full-time staff has become almost like a corporate European outpost for Americans, partly a lobbying operation, as noted by Daniel Pocock (he saw it from the inside, taking stock of Fellows’ diminishing involvement). Google plays a big role at the FSFE. It also pays the EFF. Google was a top sponsor of the FSF for a number of years. No need for a Microsoft fixation when Google itself is also problematic (it censors communications, silencing dissent, truth and so on).

“They’re slightly involved in Europe (“foreign activity”), albeit nowhere as much as in the US.”While it’s publicly known today’s EFF is funded partly (maybe mostly) by oligarchs and monopolistic corporations, how much exactly is not publicly known, as there’s no detailed breakdown. We’ll come to that in a moment. This isn’t the first time we examine the EFF’s finances (it’s about the fourth time in recent years). They’re slightly involved in Europe (“foreign activity”), albeit nowhere as much as in the US. They never ever speak about EPO corruption (not in their financial overlords’ personal interest… super-rich people like Mark Cuban).

Earlier this month someone published “Firefox usage is down 85% despite Mozilla’s top exec pay going up 400%” (we had highlighted a similar problem a year ago). To quote:

One of the most popular and most intuitive ways to evaluate an NGO is to judge how much of their spending is on their programme of works (or “mission”) and how much is on other things, like administration and fundraising. If you give money to a charity for feeding people in the third world you hope that most of the money you give them goes on food – and not, for example, on company cars for head office staff.

Mozilla looks bad when considered in this light. Fully 30% of all expenditure goes on administration. Charity Navigator, an organisation that measures NGO effectiveness, would give them zero out of ten on the relevant metric. For context, to achieve 5/10 on that measure Mozilla admin would need to be under 25% of spending and, for 10/10, under 15%.

Mozilla is a basketcase and not really the subject of this particular post. For Mozilla see what we wrote last year, based on our findings. They claim to be all about privacy, but they’re doing the opposite. They’re rather dishonest about the whole thing.

Today, without further ado, we present the latest available IRS form [PDF] (bar Form 990-T, which we’ll come to later).

Since the death of the EFF’s prominent co-founder Cindy Cohn has managed the EFF. She’s still in charge, listed in the filings as the EFF’s chief. No surprise there. She nets over a quarter million in annual salary (excluding the bonuses, listed separately), with about $200,000 for her deputy. That’s nowhere as obscene as Mozilla giving several millions to its head. Like we said, Mozilla became one heck of a basketcase, full of basketcases. One person from the EFF, Daniel Nazer (their patent expert), leapt from the EFF to Mozilla a couple of years ago. Reason unknown, but ever since then the EFF hasn’t said much about patents (nowhere near the prior frequencies).

The EFF’s salaries apparently use up about 10% of the total revenue, a lot less obscene than the Linux Foundation, where the chief pockets about a million bucks a year — to the point where this foundation operates at a loss! Apparently $100,000,000 isn’t enough for this utterly rogue foundation…

The EFF’s financial folks are more financially prudent; the EFF sits on over 40 million dollars in the bank whilst asking members to donate some more; they don’t name the big sponsors (‘donors’). These savings keep increasing at about 3 times the inflation rate (they receive more money than they can spend). Interest rates alone pay almost as much as members’ fee adds up to. Here’s the breakdown:

EFF totals

For those who want to read lots of pages we’ve included the full original document, as well as another from the start of 2020 (Form 990-T) [PDF]. It’s not particularly interesting; it’s about repeal of “parking tax” provision, explained as follows less than a year ago:

The U.S. Senate today passed government funding legislation for the 2020 fiscal year. The legislation includes a measure to repeal what is commonly referred to as the “parking tax”—that is, section 512(a)(7) that requires tax-exempt organizations to include in unrelated business taxable income the amounts they pay or incur on qualified transportation fringe benefits.

All in all, the EFF is definitely not rogue, but questions need to be asked about its mission and who exactly pays the “Big Money”. What are those sponsors looking for in return? This can help explain why the EFF touches particular areas (or issues) and not others.

“In pursuit of money for supposed ‘growth’ institutions like these typically get worse, not better, over time (as they’re run by people looking to justify and increase their own salaries/bonuses).”We should add a closing note about the cautionary tale which is the Open Source Initiative (OSI), an institution which this year banned its very own co-founder (the other co-founder had left in protest). 95% of the OSI's money comes from corporations such as Microsoft and the OSI is run by a major hypocrite who might also be a Windows user (hard to tell by his wallpaper what he uses, but it’s almost definitely not Open Source like BSD or GNU/Linux). The OSI became a ‘washing machine’ of Microsoft money. Microsoft ‘donates’ and this money is then funnelled, tax-free, to Microsoft employees in GitHub. Well, no wonder OSI’s GM quit this past summer, without even waiting for a successor to be appointed. Microsoft has always been a lot more of a cult than a company, looking to take over its opposition. Microsoft’s “success” did not require any technical excellence at all, just subversive and illegal tactics. The way we see it, Microsoft killed OSI with bribes but finally sealed the deal (OSI becoming a casualty) this year with various new bizarre appointments, a lack of purpose, and resignations. The lack of identity, or defection to working against one’s own goals, is why it’s apt to call this year’s OSI a Microsoft ‘washing machine’ (or launderette, like tax evasion and influence peddling). Where is antitrust involved? No such thing under Donald Trump. In fact, the Linux Foundation’s Jim Zemlin went out of his way to help Microsoft take over GitHub (and by extension a lot of projects that compete against Microsoft).

Going back to the EFF, we’re not yet seeing the characteristics or symptoms of complete corporate takeover (not any more than in prior years), but it’s crucial to understand what the EFF truly is and how it works. It can get worse over time. In pursuit of money for supposed ‘growth’ institutions like these typically get worse, not better, over time (as they’re run by people looking to justify and increase their own salaries/bonuses). In the EFF’s case, it’s now run by someone who had nothing to do with its creation (genesis). Barlow died and he left the EFF in hands that might become sympathetic to the EFF’s foes (such as Google).

05.09.20

EFF Should Also Speak About the EPO Granting Software Patents Against the Law

Posted in America, Courtroom, EFF, Europe, Law, Patents at 5:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Related: USPTO and EPO Openly Brag About Breaking the (Case)Law to Grant Software Patents That Courts Would Reject, Even the Very Highest Courts

Software patents and AI patents

Summary: While it’s commendable and very much appreciated that the EFF opposes software patents in the US, it has truly missed the boat, which is the crossing of the Atlantic by EPO practices, reframing software patents as something they’re not (or mindless buzzwords)

THE ABOVE-MENTIONED article already took note of similiarities if not overlaps in the way the main system in Europe and in the sole one in the US generally bypass the law itself. We continue to worry that the EFF ignores European Patent Office (EPO) abuse by António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli — abuse which includes illegal granting of software patents in Europe. They only care about copyright policy in Europe while pocketing Google money. That money comes from surveillance — something the EFF proclaims to be against and which emboldens EFF critics. Inquisitive readers can find more rants about this in yesterday’s IRC logs.

“They only care about copyright policy in Europe while pocketing Google money.”We’re generally thankful for the EFF; it has just published, if not weeks belatedly, this blog post about misguided 35 U.S.C. § 101 guidance, designed to overcome Alice (SCOTUS) rather than integrate it into common practice. In the EFF’s own words: (it was included in Daily Links already)

In 2014, the Supreme Court decided the landmark Alice v. CLS Bank case. The Court held generic computers, performing generic computer functions, can’t make something eligible for patent protection. That shouldn’t be controversial, but it took Alice to make this important limitation on patent-eligibility crystal clear.

Last year, the Patent Office decided to work around that decision, so that the door to bogus software patents could swing open once again. The office issued new guidance telling its examiners how to avoid applying Alice. In response to that proposal, more than 1,500 of you told the Patent Office to re-consider its guidance to make sure that granted patents are limited to those that are eligible for protection under Alice. Unfortunately, the Patent Office wouldn’t do it. The office and its director, Andre Iancu, refused to adapt its guidance to match the law, even when so many members of the public demanded it.

As we said at the start of last year, this won’t change how courts deal with such patents, but how many people and companies can afford a legal battle? This especially harms individuals and small businesses. To them, spending millions of dollars on one single lawsuit makes no sense at all. So they might instead settle over patent threats which they know to be bogus, baseless, and outright frivolous.

“They redefined “certainty” in the same way EPO redefined “quality” (to mean the opposite of it).”We’ve thankfully seen some supportive feedback about the EFF’s post. The CCIA said: “The Patent Office is promoting certainty in getting patents at the expense of making issued patents far less certain, with negative impacts on manufacturers and patent owners alike.”

There’s also a blog post about it (among several others) in our Daily Links.

The EFF tweeted that USPTO “should follow Supreme Court rulings, but the office’s own data show that it’s avoiding them to issue more patents.”

They redefined “certainty” in the same way EPO redefined “quality” (to mean the opposite of it).

Why does the USPTO do this?

“The EFF does get involved in European politics and even Latin-American politics when the EFF’s paymasters request that. How many times did it write about copyright law in Europe? Like a hundred times? Yet nothing (ever) about patents…”“Because it can,” said Jan Wildeboer from Red Hat/IBM (he was a campaigner against software patents in Europe before Red Hat hired him). “The USPTO and other patent offices around the world have granted patents on a lot of things that shouldn’t deserve a 20 year monopoly.”

“USPTO is ignoring Alice, Iancu has reopened the floodgates of software patents,” Benjamin Henrion said before shaming Wildeboer into leaving IBM in protest, noting that IBM played a big if not the biggest role in lobbying for what Iancu did. Our general position is that Wildeboer can perhaps persuade the former Red Hat CEO, now a President at IBM, to change IBM’s patent policy. Time will tell if that can happen…

From what we’ve heard from Wildeboer, he is at least trying.

It would be counterproductive to shame the EFF and Wildeboer, knowing that they’re generally on our side. But we shall continue asking — as we have politely done for a long time — why the EFF refuses to comment on EPO matters. The EFF does get involved in European politics and even Latin-American politics when the EFF’s paymasters request that. How many times did it write about copyright law in Europe? Like a hundred times? Yet nothing (ever) about patents…

10.08.19

The Electronic Frontier Foundation Does Good Work, But It Can Do Even Better

Posted in EFF, Patents at 1:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Constructive criticism can only make the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) even stronger

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Summary: We still miss the ‘older EFF’ as there’s a growing perception that it leans towards things that harm Software Freedom in the name of pseudo-novelty

THE EFF was covered here in two separate articles yesterday [1, 2]; it had also been mentioned very briefly two days ago. We generally support the EFF, especially because of its campaigning in the domain of patent law (e.g. defending 35 U.S.C. § 101 from a USPTO coup). Of course we also support its stance on copyright, net neutrality, privacy and so on even though we don’t always agree on approach, the methods and the policy pursued (sometimes it feels like it’s tuned by EFF sponsors). The EFF is, like any nonprofit of that scale, vulnerable to seductive corporate patrons. See what the Linux Foundation became (and no, it wasn’t always this bad).

“The EFF is, like any nonprofit of that scale, vulnerable to seductive corporate patrons.”The EFF in recent years has not been the same as before. It’s not like it was ever perfect (nothing and nobody is perfect), but over the past 2 years it got a lot worse. This saddens me because I liked them a lot. One of our readers explained to us: “I was a member for a while and gave up on them a few years ago. I still have a t-shirt and a pile of stickers.

“If they were doing anything relevant for Digital Liberty then they were not good at communicating it even to their membership. After enough of that, I stopped being a member and eventually even stopped following even their “Deep Links” page.

“Regardless of what their priorities are or aren’t these days, I’d like to see a return to them getting in the news. That might be impossible given the changes to the mainstream media, even Wired is lame now, but it is nonetheless what would help them a lot. Hopefully it would also help digital liberty. Maybe using the conference circuit more or differently would help there. That’s toilsome though.

“I’m not sure what to say about their apparently complete lack of coverage of the software patent situation in Europe. Like I said above, I stopped finding them relevant and stopped keeping track of what they do or don’t do so I have no idea if they have been paying attention to any other European issues either. What is visible and annoying is, last time I checked, their move away from Software Freedom and Open Source in general as they promote closed, proprietary products instead, rationalizing that with a small handful of Microsoft talking points.”

“Doing another article about EFF priorities can hopefully help guide them w.r.t. wants or desires of Software Freedom proponents.”We think it's about money.

Doing another article about EFF priorities can hopefully help guide them w.r.t. wants or desires of Software Freedom proponents. Even prominent privacy proponents like this one responded to us yesterday: “This already happened with the w3c DNT working group where EFF basically did nothing for about 3 years other than take a seat someone else could have had and actually done something with it.”

That sounds like a familiar problem. It’s what some call “controlled opposition”; our reader (above) often speaks of it in terms like “entryism”.

“My comment was mostly negative,” this reader explained almost with restrained sense of remorse. “Despite that I do hope they pick up some of their old priorities again. Sure they can and should do many and varied things along the way, but their overall goals should be clear as they were under Barlow’s time.”

To me, personally, the Electronic Frontier Foundation is still a good organisation whose reputation and direction can be salvaged. Last year the Electronic Frontier Foundation gave me some advice after I had received legal threats (obvious SLAPP) from a patent law firm. The Electronic Frontier Foundation does a good service for troubled bloggers who receive frivolous threats if not lawsuits.

10.07.19

EFF Should Protect or Represent Geeks, Not ‘Hipsters’

Posted in EFF, Google, Microsoft at 3:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hipster

Summary: The EFF’s reliance on some corporate cash (sometimes billionaires) raises important questions about adherence to said goals

Some people, including longtime readers, have responded to what we wrote last night about the EFF (we said more this morning). Several people believe that what they dub “hipsters” are ruining the EFF as insiders or as members (supporters). One person responded to our article "Electronic Frontier Foundation Makes a Mistake by Giving Award to Microsoft Surveillance Person" by saying that “it would be like something from the Microsoft playbook: join something and subvert it from the inside, there’s a Microsoft quote in the Comes docs about that.” (that means Comes v Microsoft)

It would be nice if the EFF spoke about EPO abuses and quit taking 'surveillance capitalism' money (a newer example of it was covered here this morning).

“…it would be like something from the Microsoft playbook: join something and subvert it from the inside, there’s a Microsoft quote in the Comes docs about that.”
      –Anonymous
From what we’re able to gather, based on the EFF’s IRS filings (these are publicly available), the EFF saw a boost in budget after the Snowden leaks but it went almost ‘downhill’ from there (further analysis might show members not renewing); they must get leaner rather than pursue corporate cash. They need to always ensure principles of integrity are at the forefront. Taking money from surveillance companies and giving these companies EFF awards isn’t the way to achieve this.

We’ve examined the latest IRS filing from the EFF. It says that the EFF receives about 4 million dollars a year from members, which leaves one wondering where the remainder (about twice that amount) comes from. The salaries aren’t totally crazy; the chief nets just over $250,000 a year. SF/Bay Area is expensive, but maybe $100,000 would suffice.

But here’s our biggest issue: The main concern here is that the EFF might become a “hush organisation”, attracting corporate funding in exchange for leaving these corporations alone (no criticism) or worse — lobby for their agenda. Is this already happening subconsciously? Is there self-censorship as opposed to spiking and threats to staff? The bottom line is, the EFF needs to reject all corporate money or risk becoming another Linux Foundation.

It’s difficult to forget how the EFF badmouthed E-mail encryption, partly based on misinformation, while promoting “phone stuff” (with back doors) as a viable alternative. If many EFF members and staff just loosely value privacy but mostly use Apple’s ‘i’ things, what does that say about the EFF’s orientation? Months ago and as recently as weeks ago the EFF also helped Apple’s and Microsoft’s “privacy” propaganda. At one point or another these ‘gaffes’ become too difficult and too frequent to overlook or ignore. It’s part of a pattern. Their main “free speech” staff (York) blocked me in Twitter for merely retweeting something.

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