Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 14/3/2013: Atheros Publishes Open-Source Wi-Fi Firmware, W3C Behind DRM

GNOME bluefish



  • Multitasking with Chrome OS and Linux on the Chromebook Pixel

  • The ultimate Linux starter kit for small business
    Microsoft did its best to usher in a new era of desktop computing with the launch of Windows 8, but many businesses and individuals are opting out. Linux-based operating systems, meanwhile, present an increasingly compelling alternative. Benefits include tougher security and superior customization—not to mention that Linux is usually free.

  • Kernel Space

    • Atheros Publishes Open-Source WiFi Firmware
      Atheros has been more friendly towards Linux customers in recent years with open-source WiFi/network Linux drivers. Atheros has even been kind towards BSD users. The latest Atheros open-source contribution is the opening up of their firmware for two wireless chipsets.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Releases LLVM IR SDK Plug-In For Eclipse
        Intel announced the first version of an LLVM IR SDK. The LLVM IR SDK is comprised of an LLVM IR editor plug-in for the Eclipse Integrated Development Environment.

      • Intel Comes Up With A Linux Graphics Driver Installer

      • Gallium3D's Direct3D 10/11 State Tracker To Be Nuked
        The Direct3D state tracker for Gallium3D that for a short time provided hope of a native Direct3D implementation for Linux of the Microsoft Direct3D 10/11 APIs without simply being a translator layer to OpenGL, is set to be nuked from mainline Mesa.

      • OSMesa State Tracker + LLVMpipe Support Published
        Brian Paul has published an initial OSMesa state tracker along with OSMesa support for the LLVMpipe and Softpipe drivers.

        OSMesa is the API exposing Mesa's off-screen rendering capabilities. The off-screen rendering infrastructure isn't dependent upon any specific operating system windowing system, or graphics hardware. OSMesa rendering is simply done in user-space with main system memory. An example use-case all along for OSMesa has been "to use Mesa as an off-line, batch-style renderer."

      • GLAMOR Acceleration Might Work On Newer X.Org

      • Linaro Eyes Up OpenGL ES 3.0, Mesa Improvements
        Last week at Linaro Connect Asia 2013, there was a session about OpenGL ES 3.0 and what the Linaro working group can accomplish.

        The OpenGL ES 3.0 session at Linaro Connect Asia 2013 was to gather Linaro member requirements for GLES3, discussion the Mesa activity, and review the Piglit regression test framework. The open question asked as a goal is "Within OpenGL ES, WebGL, OpenVG, Renderscript where should [Linaro] be investing time?"

      • Linaro Developers Plan ARM LLVM Improvements
        Developers from the member companies involved with Linaro are planning continued improvements to the LLVM compiler infrastructure that will benefit ARM developers and customers. With this ARM LLVM work there should also be Gallium3D LLVMpipe enhancements.

        Last week at Linaro Connect Asia 2013, aside from talking about OpenGL ES 3.0 improvements, there were also sessions about improving LLVM ARM support.

      • AMD Publishes Compute Support For RadeonSI
        The AMD "RadeonSI" Gallium3D driver now has basic compute (GPGPU/OpenCL) support.

        There has been R600 Gallium3D OpenCL support for running basic OpenCL demos and now the support has come to the RadeonSI driver, which supports the Radeon HD 7000 series and there's early Radeon HD 8000 series support.

      • Intel Continues Advancing OpenGL GLSL Support
        Intel Open-Source Technology Center developers continue advancing support for the OpenGL Shading Language. Their latest work is on supporting Interface Blocks for GLSL 1.50.

        Jordan Justen of Intel published the initial Interface Block support, as mandated by GLSL 1.50. The shading language 1.50 version is for matching OpenGL 3.2.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Xfce 4.12 Desktop Release Ends Up Behind Schedule
      While Xfce 4.12 was scheduled to be released on 10 March, the release didn't happen and it looks like the release won't be coming anytime soon.

      Last September plans were expressed with a road-map to release Xfce 4.12 in mid-March. Xfce 4.12 was possibly going to be ported to GTK3, but a full-port to GTK3 was decided later on to not be feasible for this release though some packages may be friendly towards the updated tool-kit.

    • LightDM Caught Off-Guard By Mir, Plans For Wayland
      Development of the LightDM display manager is now in an awkward state by Canonical's announcement of developing -- and ultimately switching to -- the Mir Display Server rather than Wayland.

      David Edmundson, who for a long time has been working on LightDM and has led when it comes to LightDM-KDE, wrote an interesting blog post this morning about how Mir conflicts with LightDM -- the display manager that's also used by Ubuntu.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.8 Beta 2 Is Now Available for Testing
        Alejandro Piñeiro Iglesias from the GNOME Release Team was happy to announce a few days ago that the second and last Beta release of the upcoming GNOME 3.8 desktop environment was ready for download and testing.

        This time, the release has been delayed with only two days from the original schedule and it is available for download and testing on the main GNOME FTP server, bringing numerous updated components, several improvements across basic apps, new features, countless bugfixes and many updated translations.

      • GNOME Will Move Full-Speed With Wayland Support
        We already know that KDE developers aren't fond of Mir, Canonical's display server for the Unity desktop not derived from X.Org and Wayland. KDE developers aren't happy about it, some Xfce developers have also expressed dissatisfaction with the recent Canonical changes, and now there's a GNOME response. What's GNOME doing about Mir? They're laying out plans right now to move hard and fast with Wayland support!

        There's been experimental work on bringing the GNOME Shell and Mutter to Wayland/Weston, but nothing that's been merged yet and ready for GNOME desktop users. The GTK3 tool-kit does have Wayland support and it's continuing to be improved. Rather than GNOME jumping on the Mir bandwagon, they want to move now at a vicious rate in supporting Wayland.

  • Distributions

    • Kali Linux Is A Security-Testing Suite

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Dell, Canonical tag team on Ubuntu Server tune-up for PowerEdgies
            Enterprises don't want to just know that an operating system will run on a piece of iron, they want to know who they are entitled to yell at when it stops working properly. And that's why a new support agreement has been inked between Canonical, the commercial entity behind the Ubuntu Server distribution of Linux, and Dell, one of the largest server makers in the world.

            As David Duffey, director of technical partnerships at Canonical, explained in a blog post announcing the expanded relationship between the two companies, Dell fired up reference architectures for the PowerEdge-C density-optimized servers back in July 2011, and the following May these reference architectures were tweaked to support Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, the long-term support variant of Ubuntu that most enterprise customers go with for their iron.

          • Ubuntu Linux gets a new official flavor
            Ubuntu fans may recall Ubuntu GNOME Remix, the unofficial flavor of the Linux distribution that was launched last fall for users not fond of the software's default Unity desktop environment.

          • More Mir Talking Points Come Out Of Canonical
            With the start of another week comes another round of information on the Mir Display Server out of Canonical.

            Mark Shuttleworth shared on Google+ a post by Christopher Halse Rogers about the Canonical motives for working on Mir. Interestingly, Mark claims, "Contrary to competitor FUD, from people who are not working as openly as they would have you believe, Mir is more likely to enable high-quality graphics for ALL flavours of Ubuntu, and any distro that chooses it. Graphics vendors have been happy to engage and ensure it works well on all architectures."

          • Shuttleworth Comments On Future Ubuntu Releases

          • Ubuntu, Shuttleworth & rolling releases
            Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company, has an ambitious plan with a short time-frame: One operating system for computers, smartphones, tablets and TVs by early 2014. One problem with this is how do you get there fast enough and one answer, rolling releases, has got developers upset. Now, Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has a new proposal on how to handle rolling releases.

          • Ubuntu Linux Gets Certified on Dell 12G Servers

          • Dell, Canonical announce new Ubuntu 12.04 support for servers

          • Devs tease early screenshots of Ubuntu Touch Core Apps
            Ubuntu developer Michael Hall has posted screenshots of early versions of what Canonical is calling the "Core Apps" for Ubuntu Touch, the new flavor of the popular Linux distribution that's being rewritten to run on mobile devices as well as PCs.

            There wasn't much you could actually do with Ubuntu Touch when Canonical released the Developer Preview firmware images in February. The OS would boot, it supported basic internet access over Wi-Fi, and you could place calls with the smartphone version, but most of the preinstalled "apps" were actually just placeholders for software that had yet to be written.

            But according to Hall, work is already underway to build a set of apps to handle most of the everyday functions users expect from their phones and fondleslabs.

          • Dell, Canonical Partner on Ubuntu for PowerEdge Servers

          • Early apps for touch-based Ubuntu reveal a mostly clean aesthetic

          • New Ubuntu Spinoff Extends Life of Legacy Hardware
            It’s easy to assume, from the stunning rate at which OEMs roll out newer and better versions of PCs, phones, tablets and other popular hardware, that few consumers want to hold on to aging devices. But if a new community-based spinoff of Ubuntu named LXLE is any indication, there are those who are, in fact, keen on keeping legacy computers running–even if it means building the requisite software themselves.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tiny computer module boasts 1.65GHz AMD APU, Linux
      AndersDX is shipping a miniature computer-on-module (COM) based on a dual-core 1.65GHz AMD G-Series APU. The CM-iGT provides rich graphics and multimedia capabilities and is supported with embedded Linux.

      The CM-iGT’s AMD G-Series APU integrates a dual-core, 64-bit x86 CPU clocked at up to 1.65GHz (depending on board model). The module also supports up to 4GB DDR3 DRAM and up to 32GB flash onboard memory.

    • Phones

      • Ballnux

        • HTC's Mackenzie: We're embracing our role as a challenger to Samsung, Apple
          HTC is searching for a comeback. After selling 43.2 million phones in 2011, according to research firm Gartner, HTC saw sales slide in 2012 down to 32.1 million units amid intense competition from the likes of Samsung Electronics and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at the high end and Huawei and ZTE at the lower end of the market. HTC is plotting a return to prominence on the back of the HTC One, the Taiwanese smartphone maker's latest flagship device. At the recent Mobile World Congress trade show, FierceWireless Editor Phil Goldstein talked with Jason Mackenzie, HTC's global president of sales, about the company's brand, the software features of the One and how the company can get its smartphone swagger back. The following is an edited version of the conversation.

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • IBM CEO Rometty Says Big Data Are the Next Great Natural Resource
      IBM CEO schools executives on how to make data-based decisions and predicts the decline of management by gut instinct.

    • MIT Researchers' Open Source Tool Can Optimize Databases in the Cloud
      In a steady fashion, almost all users of digital technology and devices are using open source, simply because so many open source software components help drive proprietary applications and platforms. The proliferation of open source components is starting to have a very positive effect on the cloud computing scene. As just one example, Netflix--which has a very robust cloud-based proprietary platform--has released Chaos Monkey and a number of other meaningful open source components that can make cloud deployments stronger.

      Now, news comes from MIT that researchers are open sourcing software components for cloud-based database-driven applications that could reduce hardware requirements by 95 percent while improving performance.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.0 Delivers Numerous Upgrades
      LibreOffice 4.0 is now available to download with user interface enhancements, and a multitude of fun new features. Here I will review many of the new features for all the LibreOffice lovers out there. This release delivers a cleaner interface and all-around improved usability.


  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • TN, UP, Rajasthan to splurge on proprietary software over open source; Microsoft, Adobe, Norton and McAfee get large govt orders
      India may have policy of preferring free and open source applications, but still the world's largest software maker Microsoft and others, including Adobe, Norton and McAfee, have managed to weasel their way into some of the largest government purchases in the country's history.

      Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan are in the process of procuring over eight million laptops preloaded with proprietary software in clear violation of India's national policy on information and communication technology and incurring avoidable expenditure of large sums of money, activists said.

    • Open source to run on PCs donated by Italian bank and France's La Poste
      Switching to free and open source software contributes to sustainability by making a more efficient use of computer hardware, allowing to use PCs for longer than when following proprietary software vendor's upgrade cycle, two very recent examples show.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Access/Content

      • MIT’s role in Aaron Swartz prosecution assailed at memorial
        Friends, family and colleagues memorialized computer activist Aaron Swartz and put MIT’s role in his prosecution front and center on Tuesday afternoon at MIT Media Lab.

      • Startups And Innovators Speak Out In Favor Of Fixing CFAA
        The good folks over at the EFF have posted a letter from a group of startups and innovators to Congress seeking reform of the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act), which has been abused for years, most notably and recently, in the case against Aaron Swartz (full disclosure: I helped review the initial letter and helped the EFF get some of the signatures on the letter). This is important, because, as we have noted, plenty of innovators and entrepreneurs could have been charged under this law for some of their random hacking experiments, some of which directly led them to create amazing innovations.

      • Towards learning from losing Aaron Swartz
        When I learned that Aaron Swartz had taken his own life, I cried. I am still desperately sad, for him, his family, for the close friends who loved him, and for our community. We lost a rare and special person, one who did so much in his short life to make the world a better place. Any do-gooder, including myself, could be proud were we to accomplish as much. We don't know what else he would have acheived were he to have lived. But I admit that I also cried for myself, because I felt guilty that I didn't do more to help Aaron in his criminal case. This article is about part of that challenge, the challenge to improve computer crime laws, and the criminal justice system more generally. Hopefully in the end, there'll be something that I, and you, can do about it.

      • Aaron Swartz Lawyers Accuse Prosecutor Stephen Heymann Of Misconduct
        Federal prosecutor Stephen Heymann engaged in prosecutorial misconduct by withholding key evidence from the defense team of Aaron Swartz, the late Internet activist's legal team alleged in a letter to an internal Justice Department ethics unit.


  • Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires, Elected Leader Of Catholic Church

  • Google Reader Axed, Shutting Down July 1st

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • ‘Iran can’t covertly produce atomic bomb’ – US intelligence chief

    • 'What Palestinians Said Was Israeli Aggression': The Death of Omar al-Masharawi
      And the Associated Press noted that the UN "couldn't 'unequivocally conclude' that the death was caused by an errantly fired Palestinian rocket."

      The BBC (3/11/13) casts doubt on the attribution of the infant's death to a Palestinian rocket, noting "that the Israeli military had reported no rockets being fired out of Gaza so soon after the start of the conflict." It also pointed out that UN team, arriving four weeks after the attack, "did not carry out a forensic investigation, but said their team did not think the damage was consistent with an Israeli air strike." Al-Masharawi's father, for his part, calls the UN finding "rubbish."

    • Tiny, Suicidal Drone/Missile Mashup Is Part of U.S.’ Afghanistan Arsenal

    • Interview: 'The Terror Factory: Inside The FBI's Manufactured War On Terrorism'
      But the problem with that is that Ali Soufan, in his review, and other agents I’ve talked to, consistently cite Faisal Shahzad, for example -- he’s the man who came close to bombing Times Square -- or Najibullah Zazi, who came close to bombing the subway system. They cite these men as examples of real terrorists and why sting operations are so necessary.

      But the problem with their argument, I think, is that neither of those men was actually caught in a terrorism sting operation. To date, we have yet to find the real would-be terrorist: Someone who was about to strike, who had the weapon, who had the means, who is thwarted by a sting operation.

    • Chinese authorities crack down on 18-day village uprising over landgrabs
      Chinese authorities have violently cracked down on an 18-day uprising over landgrabs in a southern Chinese village, arresting nine people and hospitalising dozens.

      This weekend, security forces stormed the village of Shangpu, a farming community of 3,000 in southern Guangdong province, cut the electricity supply and phone service, beat demonstrators and fired tear gas into crowds, injuring 30 to 40 people.

    • US Still Fighting “Threat” of Liberation Theology
      As just one example, an Embassy cable from June 9, 2009, explains how the former Colombian analogue of the FBI, the DAS, had been spying on and “Neutralizing” (a code word which can include actions up to assassination) particular human rights groups, including Father Giraldo’s group, the Inter-Church Commission for Justice and Peace (“CIJP” or “Justicia y Paz”). (12) This cable noted that this surveillance has been ordered by the then-President of Colombia himself, Alvaro Uribe. The cable noted that the “[s]urveillance included physical monitoring of individuals and their families (including minor children), phone and email intercepts, and collection of sensitive financial data. The unit appears to have also taken active measures to disrupt opposition events and intimidate human rights activists. . . . Journalists and human rights activists claim the surveillance [which began in 2004-2005] continues.” (emphasis added).

      One must seriously wonder whether, indeed, this state policy of “neutralizing” the CIJP continues even now, and whether the recent assassination attempt upon Father Alberto Franco of the CIJP on February 13, 2013, was indeed carried out pursuant to this policy. I myself will say for the record that should any further ill befall Father Franco or any other priest associated with the CIJP, the Colombian state and its U.S. backer must be held responsible.

    • Navy Linguist Faces Additional Charge of Violating Espionage Act
      A Navy contract linguist charged with two counts of violating the Espionage Act by unlawfully retaining “national defense information” has been hit with a third charge of violating the law.

      James F. Hitselberger was working in Bahrain as a translator. A document collector, as Secrecy News’ Steven Aftergood describes, Hitselberger is a “peripatetic collector of rare documents.” In his living quarters, where a “classified document was allegedly found in April” of 2012, newspapers and numerous books could be found. Some of his “discoveries over the years” have been donated “to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, which actually maintains a James F. Hitselberger Collection.” The collection includes “political posters and leaflets that he gathered in pre-revolutionary Iran.”

    • White House Changing Story on Anwar al-Awlaki? A Debate on NYT’s Inside Account of ’11 Drone Strike
      NASSER AL-AULAQI: I want Americans to know about my grandson, that he was very nice boy. He was very caring boy for his family, for his mother, for his brothers. He was born in August 1995 in the state of Colorado, city of Denver. He was raised in America, when he was a child until he was seven years old. And I never thought that one day this boy, this nice boy, will be killed by his own government.

    • CIA Boosts Support for Iraqi Militias
      The White House has directed the CIA to increase its cooperation and backing of Iraqi state militias to fight al-Qaeda affiliates there and cut off the flow of fighters pouring into Syria.

    • What, no Bible? Conservatives angered that Brennan took oath on Constitution

    • CIA Director Brennan sworn in on Constitution instead of Bible (Photos)

    • CIA Director John Brennan Turns Down Bible, Takes Oath Of Office On Constitution
      While there is nothing that prevents officials from being sworn in on a Bible, there’s certainly nothing wrong with following Brennan’s example and honoring the U.S. Constitution. Doing so not only sends a positive message, it frees government from giving the appearance of religious favoritism.

      When CIA Director John Brennan placed his hand on a copy of the U.S. Constitution last week to take his oath of office, did he defy the very document on which he swore? Absolutely not.

    • “Scientific Assassinations” Are Part of the CIA’s Modus Operandi
      Carroll also wrote that Chavez, himself, believed that the cancers that befell former leftist leaders of Latin America, including Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, diagnosed with colon cancer and Brazilian President Ignacio Lula da Silva, treated for throat cancer, were part of a CIA plot directed against left-wing leaders. Curiously, Carroll suggests that Uruguay’s former leftist president, Tabare Vazquez, also recovered from cancer.

    • “Poison Dart”: Secret CIA Weapon of Assassination, Triggers Heart Attack
      The astonishing information about this secret weapon of the CIA comes from U.S. Senate testimony in 1975 on rogue activities of the CIA. This weapon is only one of many James Bond-like discoveries of the Church Committee hearings, officially known as the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.

    • Afghan Student Details Capture, Torture by CIA ‘Strike Force’
      Qayum reported that the strike force put a black hood over his head and took him to an “undisclosed location” where he was beaten and asked if he knew any “Taliban commanders.” They also asked if he could help them capture a neighbor from his home village.

    • The last surviving conspirator against Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler dies, age 90
      Ewald von Kleist, the last surviving member of a group of German officers who tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944, has died at age 90. After the war von Kleist played a prominent role in transatlantic relations.

    • Rare first editions saved from Nazi book burnings returned to Austria after 75 years
      George Newman (formerly Hans Neumann) was 14 when he fled Vienna, fearing Nazi persecution, for England in 1938. Now, 75 years later, he has returned to Austria for a ceremony at the National Library, where he has donated hundreds of books and documents back to the Austrian nation which would otherwise have been burned by the Nazi regime.

    • U.S. Must Have Checks On Drone Killings
      John Brennan, newly confirmed director of the CIA, assured Americans in a speech last year on targeted killing that there is "absolutely nothing casual" about the process of targeted killing, including that of American citizens. He included in this the use of remotely controlled drone airplanes that have been used to strike and kill people identified as al-Qaida terrorists.

    • Drones: over there, over here?
      Congress is considering hearings into the use of deadly drones against terrorists, including U.S. citizens, overseas. It should expand its oversight to cover the entire subject of drones and their long-term implications.

      What matters immediately is the Obama administration's indefensible secrecy about targeted killings overseas, particularly when U.S. citizens are the targets.

    • How To Regulate Drones
      I started to think about the intersection of robotics and the law in earnest a few years ago when I left private practice. In 2011, I came to the conclusion that drones had the potential to create a new Warren and Brandeis moment. Some combination of our visceral reaction to robotic technology, our fascination with flight, and our association of drones with the theater of war could, I thought, trigger a reexamination of privacy law. Drones have indeed captured the public imagination. And we are entering something of a policy window, to borrow a concept from Priscilla Regan. But just how citizens and lawmakers ultimately come down on the domestic use of drones remains to be seen. In this post, I will talk about what I think are the worst and best ways to regulate drones with respect to privacy.

    • Americans killed by American drones

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Good report on Federal wildlife torture from a surprising source
      The story covers an investigation that was spurred, in part, by revelations that USDA “Wildlife Services” employee Jamie P. Olson had posted photos of his dogs tearing trapped coyotes to pieces on Facebook. (Previously, on Pharyngula.) The issue’s been kept on the front burner by my colleague Camilla Fox at Project Coyote; she and her organization deserve your attention and support.

    • Mali and Canadian mining in Africa
      The UK has just agreed to send 40 troops and another $5 million to support the French led operation and Harper is due to renew his contribution to the takeover on March 14. Other African nations have also begun to mobilize troops.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • EXCLUSIVE - U.S. to let spy agencies scour Americans' finances

    • Boeing Declares War on Privacy in Washington State
      Washington state has led the way in many respects when it comes to the drone issue, something I highlighted recently in my article: Just Say NO: Seattle Residents Kill the City’s Drone Program. It’s not just Seattle though, there is a bi-partisan bill in the Washington state legislature, H.B. 1771, which limits drone use within the entire state. The bill has already passed its House Committee hearing and, as expected, the state’s corporate overlords have started to fight back. Specifically, Boeing. From the Examiner:

    • Era of the digital mercenaries
      “My computer was arrested before I was.” This perceptive comment was made by a Syrian activist who had been arrested and tortured by the Assad regime. Caught by means of online surveillance, Karim Taymour told a Bloomberg[1] journalist that, during interrogation, he was shown a stack of hundreds of pages of printouts of his Skype chats and files downloaded remotely from his computer hard drive. His torturers clearly knew as much as if they had been with him in his room, or more precisely, in his computer.

    • The Second Great Crypto War
      The first great conflict over cryptography and state power happened in the 1990s. In one corner were cryptographers equipped with subtle math, digital technologies, and new ideas. In the other were the Clinton administration and its National Security Agency (NSA), which sought to maintain and extend the federal government's control over cryptography. They struggled over the concept that cryptography could be classified as munitions, over requirements to include NSA-friendly chips in communication hardware, and, in general, over the shape of post–Cold War security.

    • Hackers Attack Bank Minutes After NSA Chief Warns Senate About Hackers Attacking Banks
      The general wasn't kidding. Within an hour or so of Alexander's testimony reports that Chase Bank's website had been hacked started to bubble up. Shortly before 7 p.m. Chase confirmed to CNBC that they had indeed been targeted. Hackers hit Chase with — you guessed it — a DOS attack, bringing down the company's website. It's unclear if any customer data was compromised. It's also absolutely unclear if the hack has anything to do with the series of hearings in the Senate on Tuesday that mention cyber security and the threat of a cyber attack. Hacking into a bank's website right after the head of the NSA warns the Senate about hackers hacking into banks' websites is certainly a clever way to win attention.

    • Talking leadership with NSA’s deputy director

    • NSA Whistleblower Drake to Speak at NPC Luncheon
      This coming Friday, March 15, Government Accountability Project (GAP) client and National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Tom Drake will speak at a luncheon at the National Press Club (NPC).

      This event is part of the NPC's involvement in Sunshine Week, a national initiative promoting open government and transparency.

      Drake will speak at 1:00 p.m., and a lunch preceding his remarks will be served at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are required for this event; more information about this and other details can be found on the NPC webpage. Journalists can also submit questions to Drake in advance, with instructions to do so contained on the NPC page.

    • Is This What Google Really Thinks About Privacy?
      His "ruminations" may indeed be his personal thoughts, and not official Google policy, but for that very reason represent his real opinions of issues, not just the public gloss that is put upon them. Given his pivotal role at Google when it comes to privacy, it is likely that the Google management team largely share those views - otherwise they would presumably have fired Fleischer and found someone else they felt more comfortable with. Thus his frank comments probably provide us with tantalising glimpses of what Google really thinks about privacy.

    • Apple Can’t Duck Giving Documents in Privacy Lawsuit
      Apple Inc. (AAPL) must show in detail how it’s complying with court orders to turn over evidence in a privacy lawsuit, a judge ruled, saying he can no longer rely on what the company tells him in the case.

      U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal in San Jose, California, issued the order after the plaintiffs’ lawyers claimed Apple withheld documents it had previously been ordered to produce. Apple is accused in the lawsuit of collecting data on the locations of customers through iPhones, even after the device’s geo-location feature was turned off.


    • Apple finally fixes App Store flaw by turning on encryption
      Company moves to protect its iOS customers from security and privacy attacks over Wi-Fi by turning on encryption, at least half a year after being alerted to the problem.

  • Civil Rights

    • Gov’t won’t even give page counts of secret PATRIOT Act documents
      Lawsuits challenging government secrecy have fared pretty terribly in the post-9/11 era, with the most recent example being the Supreme Court's ruling last month that a group of journalists and activists have no right to sue over the FISA spying law.

      Only a few cases of this sort are left, including two Bay Area lawsuits being pushed forward by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. One is the San Francisco case over NSA wiretapping, which the government is trying to shut down using the "state secrets" privilege. The other is EFF's case demanding to see documents about how the government is interpreting Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act.

    • US court says feds need reasonable suspicion to search laptops at borders

  • DRM

    • Disappointing: Tim Berners-Lee Defends DRM In HTML 5
      Berners-Lee is so good on so many issues (most of his talk seemed to be about the importance of openness) that this response really stands out as not fitting with his general view of the world. Cory Doctorow has responded eloquently to TBL, explaining why he should be against the DRM proposal.


      The Big Content guys have been seeking to remake the web in their image (i.e., "TV") for over a decade now, still believing that they're the main reason people get online. They're not. There's room for them within the ecosystem, but professional broadcast-quality content is just a part of the system, not the whole thing. If the world moves to HTML5 without DRM, the content guys will whine about it... and then follow. Especially as the more knowledgeable and forward-looking content creators jump in and succeed.

    • What I wish Tim Berners-Lee understood about DRM
      Adding DRM to the HTML standard will have far-reaching effects, incompatible with the W3C's most important policies

    • Netflix kills third party app platform, current apps will continue to work
      In a blog post with the understated (to say the least) title "Changes to the Public API Program," Netflix has announced that it's shutting down its public API program. Effectively, that means that no new apps that take advantage of the data Netflix used to provide — for example, for searching for new shows and movies to watch — will be possible. Netflix director of engineering, Daniel Jacobson, writes that "existing and active affiliates" will still have access to Netflix's APIs, so any third-party apps you currently use should still work as normally. Along with the changes, Netflix has set its developer forum to "read-only," shut down its "OData catalog" for programmatically accessing Netflix's catalog, and directed all developers to Stack Overflow for their questions.


  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Mexico Will Ask To Join US-EU Transatlantic Trade Agreement
      That suggests that the US is actively involved in this latest move -- maybe even its instigator -- and would look favorably on Mexico joining TAFTA. There's also a hint in the article quoted above that Canada too might join TAFTA. Having both Mexico and Canada on board would be consistent with the US's past approach, where it allowed them to join the TPP negotiations, but on fairly humiliating terms that limit their scope of action.

      Whether or not Mexico and Canada become part of TAFTA, and under what terms, it's pretty clear what the US strategy here is. Just today we learned that South Korea is likely to join Japan in asking to sign up to the TPP talks. That would make TPP the defining international agreement for the entire Pacific region. TAFTA obviously aims to do the same for the Atlantic. As well as establishing the US as the key link between the giant TPP and TAFTA blocs, this double-headed approach would also isolate the main emerging economies -- Brazil, Russia, India and above all China -- if they refuse to join as presumably junior partners. That globe-spanning pair of trade pacts, it would seem, are what Obama hopes to be remembered for when he leaves office: his legacy to America -- and to history.

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Delusions: ACTA Supporters Pretend It's Just About Counterfeit Goods
        One of the nastier tricks of copyright maximalists has been to lump together "counterfeiting" with "copyright infringement" in an effort to conveniently jump back and forth when making silly arguments. Basically, they can argue that copyright infringement is a huge issue, because of the massive amount of unauthorized sharing that happens online. But they have a lot of trouble showing real harm. On the other side, counterfeiting really isn't that big of a problem when you look closely at the details, but there are a few, extremely limited cases (faulty counterfeit airplane parts, some fake drugs) where there could be real harm. So if you lump them all together you can claim "massive problems" with "real harm." But that doesn't work if you look at them individually.

        We recently wrote about some Canadian politicians introducing a bill to get Canada in compliance with ACTA, despite the fact that ACTA has been totally discredited around the globe. Some political opponents are now pushing back on that, calling the bill in question an attempt to get ACTA in "through the backdoor." However, in response Canadian Industry Minister, Christian Paradis, just keeps repeating the "counterfeiting" mantra and ignoring the entire ACTA elephant in the room.

      • WordPress to fight “legally deficient and objectionable” Prenda subpoena
        Porn-trolling firm Prenda Law recently made another baffling move in a retaliatory defamation suit against its online critics: the firm sent a subpoena to Automattic, WordPress' parent company, demanding a list of all of the IP addresses that have visited the anti-troll websites DieTrollDie and Fight Copyright Trolls, both of which are powered by WordPress. Prenda's lawyer Paul Duffy wrote to Automattic in a letter accompanying the subpoena, "Due to the emergency nature of the requested information, it is imperative that your organization responds to the subpoena immediately.”

      • Copyright Trolls to Judge: Nope! We’re Not Coming to Scary Hearing

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