Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 21/11/2015: Community Appreciation Day, Jolla's Problems

Links 20/11/2015:

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Being Thankful for Open Source (But Why Do Companies Do It?)
    It's Thanksgiving time, and I'm surely thankful for the free open source software I use. But going open source always seemed counter-intuitive to me. Why would a company invest time, money and development resources to create valuable intellectual property and then throw it out to everyone to use for free as they see fit?

  • Improving accessibility for 8 open source projects
    I've been involved in open source ever since I made the switch to Linux four years ago, sometimes as a code contributor, sometimes just filing bugs and improving documentation. And, as some of you may already know, I'm visually impaired.

    As such, most of the open source projects I'm involved in revolve around accessibility. These are the 8 open source projects I use and work on as part of the open source accessibility community.

  • Is Open Source Making Strides to Become More Diverse?
    The lack of women in the computer science field is not a new development. In fact, only 30 percent of the 707 students studying computer science at Stanford University are female. But the tide may be turning as women are beginning to make their presence known in the open source world.

  • Google Open Sources Tools for Importing Mail into Gmail
    Remember when Gmail was new? It was back in 2004 that Google offered a beta of its now very widely used email platform. Still, lots of people get their email on other platforms, and with that in mind, Google has open sourced two projects that make it very easy to import mail into Gmail.

    "We have two new open-source projects to help people import their existing email into Gmail using the Gmail API," notes a Google post: mail-importer and import-mailbox-to-gmail.

  • Nmap 7 Released
    The Nmap Project is pleased to announce the immediate, free availability of the Nmap Security Scanner version 7.00 from It is the product of three and a half years of work, nearly 3200 code commits, and more than a dozen point releases since the big Nmap 6 release in May 2012. Nmap turned 18 years old in September this year and celebrates its birthday with 171 new NSE scripts, expanded IPv6 support, world-class SSL/TLS analysis, and more user-requested features than ever. We recommend that all current users upgrade.

  • CAM Editor v3.2.2 for XML, JSON, SQL and UML with UI forms now available
    CAM combines all this elegantly in one template along with the content and business rules. Allowing designers and developers to work coherently together. This can shave weeks of manual effort off the typical development life cycle and guarantee consistent results.

  • Events

    • FOSDEM '16 -- Call for Participation
      FOSDEM 2016 (the free and open source developer's meeting in Brussels, Europe) will feature a new track on Containers and Process isolation. Therefore, we invite developers and users from the containers community to join us for this track and present your talks or demos.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome Extensions – AKA Total Absence of Privacy
        Google, claiming that Chrome is the safest web browser out there, is actually making it very simple for extensions to hide how aggressively they are tracking their users. We have also discovered exactly how intrusive this sort of tracking actually is and how these tracking companies actually do a lot of things trying to hide it. Due to the fact that the gathering of data is made inside an extension, all other extensions created to prevent tracking (such as Ghostery) are completely bypassed.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Better polygon rendering in LibreOffice's Gtk3 Support
      Above is how LibreOffice's "svp" backend rendered rotated text outlines in chart where the text is represented by polygon paths. Because the gtk3 backend is based on that svp backend that's what you got with the gtk3 support enabled.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • It’s NotABug …
      As Gitorious recently faded away, we have been searching for a Git Hosting solution for our FSFE Localgroup Zurich. We have evaluated several options including self-hosting. The latter has been tested with a software called GitBucket but it seems that a lot of recourses are required for that. At least it does not work well on my Atom-based Server.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • The force is with us!(So Close!)
        Here we have a lot of long runs *(prints with more than 4 hours) hope that you enjoy it ! The material used is ABS provided by our sponsor, “Filamentos 3D Brasil“, thanks a lot fot the stuff and support guys!

  • Programming

    • Camel in a Hat: perl-CryptX package
      I'm going to package CryptX Perl module [1] soon.

    • rough code and working consensus
      On their better days, standards groups follow a principle of rough consensus and working code. Somebody builds something, announces it to some friends and maybe a few competitors, and says, hey, if you build something similar, it’s possible for our implementations to interoperate. Everyone’s a winner. Sometimes the design isn’t perfect, but the fact that at least one person/group has built an implementation is an existence proof that it can be built. Valuable knowledge to have.


  • No UI is the New UI

  • No UI is some UI
    He’s talking here about “invisible apps”: Magic and Operator and to some extent Google Now and Siri; apps that aren’t on a screen. Voice or messaging or text control. And he’s wholly right. Point and click has benefits — it’s a lot easier to find a thing you want to do, if you don’t know what it’s called — but it throws away all the nuance and skill of language and reduces us to cavemen jabbing a finger at a fire and grunting. We’ve spent thousands of years refining words as a way to do things; they are good at communicating intent1. On balance, they’re better than pictures, although obviously some sort of harmony of the two is better still. Ikea do a reasonable job of providing build instructions for Billy bookcases without using any words at all, but I don’t think I’d like to see their drawings of what “honour” is, or how to run a conference.

  • Science

    • Moon landing tapes got erased, NASA admits
      The original recordings of the first humans landing on the moon 40 years ago were erased and re-used, but newly restored copies of the original broadcast look even better, NASA officials said on Thursday.

      NASA released the first glimpses of a complete digital make-over of the original landing footage that clarifies the blurry and grainy images of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walking on the surface of the moon.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Antibiotic resistance: World on cusp of 'post-antibiotic era'
      The world is on the cusp of a "post-antibiotic era", scientists have warned after finding bacteria resistant to drugs used when all other treatments have failed.

      They identified bacteria able to shrug off the drug of last resort - colistin - in patients and livestock in China.

      They said that resistance would spread around the world and raised the spectre of untreatable infections.

      It is likely resistance emerged after colistin was overused in farm animals.

    • Gene that makes bacteria immune to last-resort antibiotic can spread
      A newly identified gene that renders bacteria resistant to polymyxin antibiotics—drugs often used as the last line of defense against infections—has the potential to be shared between different types of bacteria. The finding raises concern that the transferable gene could make its way into infectious bacteria that are already highly resistant to drugs, thereby creating strains of bacteria immune to every drug in doctors’ arsenal.

    • UK running public consultation on NHS England mandate 2016-2020
      Every year, the Secretary of State must publish a mandate to ensure that NHS England's objectives remain up to date. The mandate sets the objectives of NHS England as well as its budget. The latter will be determined after the Spending Review will be concluded on 25 November.

      This year, every government department is producing a plan setting out its objectives to 2020 and how achieve them. The mandate to NHS England is part of the Department of Health's plan and will take effect from April 2016.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • I was held hostage by Isis. They fear our unity more than our airstrikes
      As a proud Frenchman I am as distressed as anyone about the events in Paris. But I am not shocked or incredulous. I know Islamic State. I spent 10 months as an Isis hostage, and I know for sure that our pain, our grief, our hopes, our lives do not touch them. Theirs is a world apart.

      Most people only know them from their propaganda material, but I have seen behind that. In my time as their captive, I met perhaps a dozen of them, including Mohammed Emwazi: Jihadi John was one of my jailers. He nicknamed me “Baldy”.

      Even now I sometimes chat with them on social media, and can tell you that much of what you think of them results from their brand of marketing and public relations. They present themselves to the public as superheroes, but away from the camera are a bit pathetic in many ways: street kids drunk on ideology and power. In France we have a saying – stupid and evil. I found them more stupid than evil. That is not to understate the murderous potential of stupidity.

    • The left has an Islam problem: If liberals won’t come to terms with religious extremism, the xenophobic right will carry the day
      There’s a persistent taboo on the Left which demands that every incident of terror be attributed to American foreign policy. Terrorism is a hydra-headed problem, and it’s not reducible to a single cause – religion and politics and economics and foreign policy and institutional corruption are critical variables. Does America’s history of looting and corruption in the Middle East matter? Absolutely. Is the world and the region currently paying the price for the West’s self-interested partitioning of the Middle East after World War I? Without question. But Islamists aren’t killing cartoonists because the U.S. invaded Iraq. And ISIS isn’t exterminating the Yazidis because of America’s sordid relationship with Saudi Arabia.


      Their hatred of infidels and their belief in martyrdom and armed Jihad have a scriptural basis, and it’s dishonest to pretend otherwise. And their brand of Islam isn’t radically different from the Wahhabism practiced in Saudi Arabia. Most Muslims aren’t Wahhabists and don’t share this vision of life, just as most Christians aren’t stoning adulterers, even though there are biblical injunctions to do so. But it’s disingenuous to say ISIS has no connection to Islamic tradition.

    • The Peaceful Muslim Majority Is "Irrelevant," Says Brigitte Gabriel [see comment]

      After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

      Bangladesh -- Muslim 83% Egypt -- Muslim 90% Gaza -- Muslim 98.7% Indonesia -- Muslim 86.1% Iran -- Muslim 98% Iraq -- Muslim 97% Jordan -- Muslim 92% Morocco -- Muslim 98.7% Pakistan -- Muslim 97% Palestine -- Muslim 99% Syria -- Muslim 90% Tajikistan -- Muslim 90% Turkey -- Muslim 99.8% United Arab Emirates -- Muslim 96%

      100% will usher in the peace of 'Dar-es-Salaam' -- the Islamic House of Peace. Here there's supposed to be peace, because everybody is a Muslim, the Madrasses are the only schools, and the Koran is the only word, such as in:

      Afghanistan -- Muslim 100% Saudi Arabia -- Muslim 100% Somalia -- Muslim 100% Yemen -- Muslim 100%

    • Turkey soccer fans boo moment of silence for Paris attacks
      Before today’s Greece vs. Turkey friendly match in Istanbul both teams shared a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Paris attacks.
    • Turkey could cut off Islamic State’s supply lines. So why doesn’t it?
      In the wake of the murderous attacks in Paris, we can expect western heads of state to do what they always do in such circumstances: declare total and unremitting war on those who brought it about. They don’t actually mean it. They’ve had the means to uproot and destroy Islamic State within their hands for over a year now. They’ve simply refused to make use of it. In fact, as the world watched leaders making statements of implacable resolve at the G20 summit in Antalaya, these same leaders are hobnobbing with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip ErdoÄŸan, a man whose tacit political, economic, and even military support contributed to Isis’s ability to perpetrate the atrocities in Paris, not to mention an endless stream of atrocities inside the Middle East.

    • Mass graves of women 'too old to be Isil sex slaves' - this is what we're up against
      In the desert dust of Sinjar, in north west Iraq, a walking stick lies on the ground.

      Strewn casually alongside it are a couple of pairs of scissors, some household keys and a shoe. Bank notes flutter in the dirt.

      But, if you look a little closer, the scene becomes a horror show. Clumps of hair and fragments of bone poke grotesquely out of the ditch. It is estimated that almost 80 women are buried in this mass grave, aged between 40 and 80-years-old. The bodies are of Yazidi women, murdered by Islamic State butchers.

    • CIA Chief: Terrorists Harder to Find, Because of Leaks, Reforms
      On Monday at the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Global Security Forum, John Brennan, Director of the US' Central Intelligence Agency, spoke about the recent bombings in Paris. In what many commentators took as a reference to Edward Snowden, but could instead refer to the Church Committee, Brennan predicted that finding the attackers will be more difficult than it would have been, had intelligence services been left unchecked...

    • Jewish teacher stabbed in Marseilles by purported ISIS supporters
      A teacher at a Jewish school in the southern French city of Marseilles was stabbed on Wednesday by three people professing support for Islamic State, but his life was not in danger, prosecutors said.

      The victim was identified as Tziyon Saadon who is in his fifties.

      The three men who attacked the teacher uttered anti-Semitic remarks during the incident, AFP reported.

    • Saudi Wahhabi dilemma in spotlight after Paris attack
      Saudi Arabia's harsh religious tradition is seen by many outsiders - and some Saudi liberals - as a root cause of the international jihadist threat that has inflamed the Middle East for years and struck in Paris last week.

      However, while Riyadh has cracked down hard on jihadists at home, jailing thousands, stopping hundreds from traveling to fight abroad and cutting militant finance streams, its approach to religion has raised a dilemma.

    • Islam Is a Religion of Violence
      Can the wave of violence sweeping the Islamic world be traced back to the religion's core teachings? An FP debate about the roots of extremism.

    • Sadiq Khan: Muslims are growing up in this country without ever 'knowing anyone from a different background'
      Muslims are growing up in this country without ever "knowing anyone from a different background", one of Britain' most senior Muslim politicians has warned.

      Sadiq Khan, Labour's London Mayoral contender, said the wake of the Paris attacks British Muslims had a "special role" to play in tackling extremism.

      Mr Khan said: "Too many British Muslims grow up without really knowing anyone from a different background. Without understanding or empathising with the lives and beliefs of others."

    • Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam
      A Palestinian poet and leading member of Saudi Arabia’s nascent contemporary art scene has been sentenced to death for renouncing Islam.

      A Saudi court on Tuesday ordered the execution of Ashraf Fayadh, who has curated art shows in Jeddah and at the Venice Biennale. The poet, who said he did not have legal representation, was given 30 days to appeal against the ruling.

      Fayadh, 35, a key member of the British-Saudi art organisation Edge of Arabia, was originally sentenced to four years in prison and 800 lashes by the general court in Abha, a city in the south-west of the ultraconservative kingdom, in May 2014.

    • Syria secretly sentenced free software developer Bassel Khartabil to death
      Khartabil has been imprisoned in a Syria's Adra Prison since 2012, though as of October, he has been transferred to an undisclosed location. The free software/open culture activist was the lead for Creative Commons Syria and has contributed to Wikipedia, Firefox and many other projects.

      He was arrested on the first anniversary of the Syrian uprising, and was tortured for five days by Syria's Military Branch 215 and was tried, without access to counsel, on charges of "harming state security." His arrest and detention have been widely decried; the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for his immediate release.

      Noura Ghazi, Khartabil's wife, a human rights lawyer, reports that he has been secretly sentenced to death by a military tribunal.

    • At least 27 dead as gunmen seize more than 100 at Mali hotel
      Suspected Islamist gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Mali's capital Friday, firing automatic weapons and seizing more than 100 guests and staff in a hostage-taking that left at least 27 people dead.

      Special forces staged a dramatic floor-by-floor rescue at the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako, according to local television and security sources, to end the nine-hour siege.

      The assault, which France has said was likely masterminded by notorious Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar, added to fears over the global jihadist threat a week after the Paris massacre that left 130 people dead.

      Malian television broadcast chaotic scenes from inside the hotel as police and other security personnel ushered bewildered guests along corridors and across the main lobby.

    • UN Confirms 29 People Killed in Mali Siege, Including 2 Attackers

    • Mali Hotel Attack Leaves at Least 21 Dead, Including an American
      Assailants with guns blazing on Friday attacked a hotel hosting diplomats and others in Mali’s capital, leaving at least 21 people dead and trapping dozens in the building for hours, officials in the West African Nation said.

      Malian and U.N. security forces launched a counterattack at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako and escorted guests out. By late afternoon, no hostages were believed to remain in the building, army Col. Mamadou Coulibaly told reporters.

    • NJ native Anita Datar killed in hostage attack in Mali
      A woman with ties to New Jersey is among the victims killed in an attack on a hotel in Mali. At least 20 people were killed when terrorists took hostages at a Radison hotel in Bamako Friday.

      The State Department has not released the name, but family has identified her as Anita Datar.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • World Trade Organization Puts Dolphins At Risk
      Today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the dolphin-saving U.S. labeling program for tuna, calling it a “technical barrier to trade.” Mexico brought the case against the U.S.

      Since 1990, the United States has maintained a “dolphin-safe” labeling program for tuna that allows consumers to choose to purchase tuna caught in a manner that does not kill dolphins. The “dolphin-safe” label has contributed to a 97-percent reduction in dolphin deaths since the 1980s in Pacific waters where dolphins and tuna cohabitate.

    • Palm Farmers' Group: Indonesia's Action on Haze Won't Stop Burning
      Forest fires in Indonesia that have caused choking smoke across much of Southeast Asia will flare up again next year because government action to tackle the crisis is ineffective, a palm farmers group said.

      Indonesia and the wider Southeast Asian region have been suffering for weeks from smoke caused by smoldering forest and peatland fires, largely in Sumatra and Borneo islands that authorities have struggled to contain.

    • Indonesia Is Burning, And The World Hasn’t Noticed
      Indonesia is burning. More than 3,000 miles of burning forest and peat have already emitted more carbon dioxide in the past few months than the annual emissions of Germany. It’s the worst set of fires the country has seen since 1997, a year in which 15,000 children under the age of three died from air pollution. More than 500,000 respiratory tract infections have been reported since July 1, and Indonesia’s 43 million people have been inhaling toxic fumes for months. Some children have already died from complications, while others have been evacuated out of the country on emergency warships. Blame the Indonesia fire’s slow burn, or global short attention spans for a lack of coverage, but this story has been building for months without much of an audience — and it’s not just an Indonesian problem.


      As for all the smoke, it’s not coming from Indonesia’s living plants, but the layers of peat underneath them. This makes the problem that much worse: the peat smolders and keeps fires burning for months while releasing 10 times more methane (which is 21 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide) than a normal fire. In the worst hit areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Pollutant Standard Index has put pollution levels around 2,000 (anything above 300 is considered hazardous). The toxic haze is also affecting other countries as it drifts over Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

    • Indonesia's "Land Mafia" Sets Forests Ablaze
      The seriousness of the Indonesian forest fires can no longer be ignored.

      As 40 million people gasp for breath and tens of thousands of hectares of forest are on fire in Indonesia, the world continues to revolve like nothing dangerous happens. When more than 500,000 people suffer from acute respiratory infection and wildlife habitat are exposed to damage, people across the globe have barely responded.

      For the past two months, the sky of the Borneo and Sumatra islands has been blurred in smoke, just as hazy as the huge capitalism game behind this structured, man-made eco-disaster.

      What makes matters worse is that mass media appear to be gradually slipping away even though, as George Monbiot said, it’s almost definitely the 21st century’s greatest environmental disaster to date.

    • Indonesia bans peatlands destruction after fires hospitalised 500,000
      The president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, has ordered the restoration of burned peatlands and banned their clearance after disastrous fires caused severe pollution and hospitalised roughly 500,000 people in recent weeks.

      The ruling is in response to recent fires that polluted skies across Southeast Asia, and released about 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon.

      Widodo has banned the clearance and conversion of carbon-dense peatlands across Indonesia through a series of presidential and ministerial instructions issued over the last two-and-a-half weeks.

    • Will the “Tobacco Strategy” Work Against Big Oil?
      According to InsideClimate News, the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had been investigating ExxonMobil for a year before it issued a recent subpoena for “documents on what Exxon knew about climate change and what it told shareholders and the public.” The subpoena compelled ExxonMobil to hand over scientific research and communications about climate change dating back to 1977. (Exxon and Mobil merged to become a single corporation in 1999.) The investigation is based on New York State’s consumer-protection and general-business laws and, crucially, the state’s Martin Act, InsideClimate News reported. That statute prohibits fraud or misrepresentation in the sale of securities and commodities, and gives the Attorney General extraordinary power to fight financial fraud.

    • Peat fires: emissions likely to worsen
      The horrific haze from Indonesia's forest and peatland fires, started deliberately to clear land for planting and made worse by drought, has become a global crisis. Indonesia's government could stop this annual catastrophe, but it so far seems to lack the political will to do so.

    • Indonesia's forest fires will happen again
      The enormous forest fires that continue to rage in Indonesia are a tragedy for the environment, the economy, and for public health. And if regulatory steps aren't taken, Brendan May argues, history will repeat itself. Here's why.

    • Nasa releases carbon map that shows which countries are polluting the world
      As carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere steadily rise, Nasa is warning that the capacity of Earth's oceans, forests and land ecosystems to absorb human-generated carbon dioxide could one day dramatically weaken.

      Currently, the planet 'breathes' - forests, rainforests and oceans all absorb carbon dioxide, taking up about half of all human-emitted carbon.

    • State Newspapers Highlight Dangers Of Green-Lighting Offshore Drilling In The Atlantic Ocean
      In its draft leasing plan that will set the boundaries for oil development in federal waters from 2017 to 2022, the Obama Administration proposed allowing offshore drilling along the Atlantic Coast between Virginia and Georgia. Newspapers in the states that would be impacted by this plan have published articles and editorials highlighting local opposition and describing the economic and environmental risks associated with offshore drilling. As the administration approaches a final decision on offshore drilling, these concerns identified by state media outlets should inform national media coverage in the days and weeks ahead.

  • Finance

    • Trans-Pacific Partnership: Obama Offers Helping Hand, Companies Give Cash To Support Democrats Backing Trade Pact
      After voting to give President Barack Obama the authority to strike new trade deals in the summer, House Democrats have enjoyed the warm, friendly embrace of the chief executive and a steady flow of cold, hard cash from the companies that are backing a massive agreement with Asia-Pacific nations. Obama, in a display of political acumen that often has eluded him in dealing with Congress, never stopped wooing members who supported him as he eyeballed the prize -- ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- by the time he leaves office.

      Air Force One? At your service, congressman. Help on veterans’ issues? Done. A visit from a cabinet secretary? Of course. Financial support from business allies? Easy.

    • [Old but just re-edited] No to ACTA - Paris
      Jérémie Zimmermann from La Quadrature du Net gave a speech and urged people to contact their legal representatives, in addition to protesting in the street...

    • David Brooks’ ‘$120,000 Vacation’ Is No Joke
      So at a time when 92 million Americans are out of the labor force, the highest number in four decades, 14.8 percent of the population live below the poverty line, which is $24, 250 for a family of four, when global inequality is skyrocketing such that just 80 billionaires now control the same wealth as 3.5 billion people, the fact that a supposedly “serious” columnist at the country’s “paper of record” thinks it’s cute to talk about how “sometimes it is the structure of things that you shall be pampered and you have no choice but to sit back and accept that fact” seems pretty darn unfunny.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Do the Kochs Have Their Own Spy Network?
      Five years ago, when The New Yorker published my piece “Covert Operations,” about the ambitious and secretive political network underwritten by the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, the Koch brothers complained mightily about the story’s title, protesting that there was nothing at all covert about their political activities. Since then, the two have embarked on an impressive public-relations campaign meant to demonstrate their transparency and openness. But today, the Politico reporter Kenneth Vogel came out with a blockbuster scoop suggesting that the brothers, whose organization has vowed to spend an unprecedented eight hundred and eighty-nine million dollars in the 2016 election cycle, are more involved in covert operations than even their own partners have known.

      After culling through the latest legally required disclosures, Vogel unearthed a new front group within the Kochs’ expanding network of affiliated nonprofit organizations—a high-tech surveillance and intelligence-gathering outfit devoted to stealthily tracking liberal and Democratic groups which Politico calls the “Koch Intelligence Agency.” The sleuthing operation reportedly includes twenty-five employees, one of whom formerly worked as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, and follows opponents by harvesting high-tech geodata from their social-media posts.

    • Obnoxious Neo-Con Plagiarist Robert Webb Quits the Labour Party
      A genuinely unpleasant person. I confess to a personal grudge against Webb, but it is a justified one. he was deeply involved in plagiarising my memoir, Murder in Samarkand for the BBC Comedy The Ambassador. The production company involved, Big Talk, had actually invited me to their offices for a meeting to ask me to sell them the rights to Murder in Samarkand. I attended the meeting but I refused to sell them the rights. They went ahead and made the series anyway.

    • Jim Naureckas on ISIS Attacks, Janet Redman on Climate Conference Activism
      We talk about the differing ways corporate media report terrorist violence with FAIR’s own Jim Naureckas.

  • Censorship

    • France Responds To Paris Attacks By Rushing Through Internet Censorship Law
      The attacks in Paris were a horrible and tragic event -- and you can understand why people are angry and scared about it. But, as always, when politicians are angry and scared following a high-profile tragedy, they tend to legislate in dangerous ways. It appears that France is no exception. It has pushed through some kneejerk legislation that includes a plan to censor the internet. Specifically the Minister of the Interior will be given the power to block any website that is deemed to be "promoting terrorism or inciting terrorist acts." Of course, this seems ridiculous on many levels.

    • Iran arrests cartoonist as crackdown on free expression goes on
      Iranian authorities have arrested a cartoonist and sent him to prison to complete a suspended jail sentence, his lawyer said on Tuesday, joining a growing list of journalists, artists and activists detained on security charges.

    • The Right to Be Forgotten: Why a New Artist's Biggest Battle Is Finding a Way to Delete Their Past
      Remember Britannia High? 2008 UK’s answer to Fame? The just-before-primetime ITV song-and-dance debacle that was axed after one series? They were great days. The show, of course, was a complete disaster, both on a creative, commercial, in fact, every possible level.

      But if you examine audition footage of Britannia High on YouTube maybe you’ll start to wonder if the whole thing could have been rescued, had the show only made different casting decisions. Here, for instance, is a great singer who didn’t make the cut.

    • Judge Mocks Public Interest Concerns About Kicking People Off Internet, Tells Cox It's Not Protected By The DMCA
      Judge Liam O'Grady -- the same guy who helped the US government take all of Kim Dotcom's stuff, is the judge handling the wacky Rightscorp-by-proxy lawsuit against Cox Communications. The key issue: Righscorp, on behalf of BMG and Round Hill Music flooded Cox Communications with infringement notices, trying to shake loose IP addresses as part of its shake down. Cox wasn't very happy about cooperating, and in response BMG and Round Hill sued Cox, claiming that 512(i) of the DMCA requires ISPs to kick people off the internet if they're found to be "repeat infringers." Historically, it has long been believed that 512(i) does not apply to internet access/broadband providers like Cox, but rather to online service providers who are providing a direct service on the internet (like YouTube or Medium or whatever). However, the RIAA and its friends have hinted for a while that they'd like a court to interpret 512(i) to apply to internet access providers, creating a defacto "three strikes and you lose all internet access" policy. Rightscorp (with help from BMG and Round Hill Music) have decided to put that to the test.

    • For a few truly bad DMCA takedowns, YouTube offers to cover legal costs
      Four video creators will come under YouTube's legal protection now, under a program unveiled today in a company blog post.

      "We are offering legal support to a handful of videos that we believe represent clear fair uses which have been subject to DMCA takedowns," writes YouTube copyright lawyer Fred Von Lohmann. "With approval of the video creators, we’ll keep the videos live on YouTube in the U.S., feature them in the YouTube Copyright Center as strong examples of fair use, and cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them."

    • Reuters Issues a Worldwide Ban on RAW Photos
      Reuters has implemented a new worldwide policy for freelance photographers that bans photos that were processed from RAW files. Photographers must now only send photos that were originally saved to their cameras as JPEGs.

    • Gmail Takes A Sledgehammer To The Techdirt Daily Newsletter When Not Even A Scalpel Is Needed
      Of course, being a collection of the previous day's Techdirt posts, the Techdirt Daily email contains many, many links. Also, as it is something of a Techdirt policy to not spread malware to our readers, our writers are generally careful about the sites they link to in their posts. So, trying to track down which link might be to a site Google deems suspicious seemed daunting. But it turns out we didn't have to look any further than the third post to figure out what happened, the title of which conveniently contains the word "malware." Within that post, Tim Cushing included the domain name of a site that has been known in the past to distribute malware (in addition to squatting on a domain using the Electronic Frontier Foundation's name). It appears Google took that unlinked mention of the domain name as Techdirt carelessly endangering the digital lives of our newsletter subscribers, and stepped in to protect those subscribed via Gmail by throwing up the scary red warning banner and squashing every link in the email (even the unsubscribe link!).

  • Privacy

    • After Paris: Liberté demands unlimited encryption
      The neocons are at it again: After the tragedies of the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday (and Beirut the day before), they're arguing that governments need to be able to access all communications from everyone, purportedly to protect us from future terrorist attacks. They're making their case in leading newspapers and TV networks. Now they want to be able to break into encrypted communications on demand, over such services as Telegram or Apple Messages.

      Using the Paris attacks as a pretext to create an Orwellian police state is morally perverse, and we should not let fear stampede us to living in a police state.

    • Future iPhones could contain eye-tracking software
      The next generation of iPhones could contain software designed to track the path of your gaze, and only display notifications when your eyes are focused on a certain part of the display, a new patent has revealed.

      Filed by Apple in September 2012, the newly-granted patent outlines how a gaze detection device could delay the automated autocorrect of a misspelled word if it knew the user's eye weren't focused on the word, which it claims would be "more intuitive".

      This could apply more widely to notifications, it suggests, delaying the delivery of a message notification until the user is paying attention to the display, minimising the risk of missing the message altogether.

    • Is There Any Evidence In The World That Would Convince Intelligence Community That More Surveillance Isn't The Answer?
      We've already discussed how the usual surveillance state defenders quickly rushed into action following the Paris attacks to demand more surveillance -- and also noted that the two attacks in Paris in the past year happened despite that country expanding its own surveillance laws twice in the past year (once right before the Charlie Hebdo attack and once soon after). And all of that raises a simple question in my mind:

      If the intelligence community and its supporters will call for greater surveillance and less encryption even after the surveillance capabilities have been shown not to work at all -- is there any evidence at all that will convince them that maybe this is not the right idea? It's a strange kind of argument that repeatedly points to its own failures... and follows it up with "well, that proves we need more of that!"

      Such an argument, by itself, seems self-refuting, because there is no other side. If things are working okay, call for more surveillance. If the surveillance doesn't work, just call for more surveillance. It's the default answer to anything, and thus these calls should be ignored. The fact that the surveillance community wants more power is not news and it's not surprising. It's not because of the Paris attacks -- they're always asking for this and they've mostly gotten it. And it didn't work.

    • Why Is Facebook Inspecting Your Private Videos?
      In general, Facebook has some pretty decent copyright policies. If you upload content to Facebook and it’s removed because of a bogus takedown request, you can file a counter-notice via a form on Facebook’s website. If the claimant doesn’t take action against you in a federal court in 14 days, your content is restored. That’s how it’s supposed to work, and Facebook usually does it right. Unlike some platforms, it also doesn’t ding users as “repeat offenders” based on multiple phony claims.

    • A Major Shareholder Dumps His Facebook Stock, Should You?
      As far as financials go, the company has grown from $5 billion in revenue and an EPS of $0.01 at the beginning of this timeframe to a company analysts expect to report $17.5 billion and an EPS of $2.16 in the current fiscal year. All in all, it seems Facebook is moving from strength to strength.

    • Post-Snowden Cryptography
      Since June 2013 the world, and in particular the security world, has been shaken by the Snowden revelations. Bullrun is a programme by the NSA which includes as part of the Sigint Enabling Project to "Insert vulnerabilities into commercial encryption systems", to "influence policies, standards and specification for commercial public key technologies" and to "shape the worldwide commercial cryptography marketplace to make it more tractable to advanced cryptanalytic capabilities being developed by NSA/CSS". These are strong threats against cryptography in general and in particular against cryptography developed outside the US.
    • Baseless Calls to Expand Surveillance Fit Familiar, Cynical Pattern
      Like clockwork, cynical calls to expand mass surveillance practices—by continuing the domestic telephone records collection and restricting access to strong encryption—came immediately following the Paris attacks. These calls came before the smoke had even cleared, much less before a serious investigation completed. They came from high places too, including CIA head John Brennan and New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton.

    • [Older] UN privacy chief: UK surveillance bill is 'worse than scary'
      The UK government's proposed surveillance legislation is "worse than scary", the United Nations privacy chief has said.

      Joseph Cannataci, the UN's special rapporteur on privacy, attacked the government's draft Investigatory Powers Bill, saying he had never seen evidence that mass surveillance works. He also accused MPs of leading an "absolute offensive" and an "orchestrated" media campaign to distort the debate and take hold of new powers.

    • Founder of app used by ISIS once said ‘We shouldn’t feel guilty.’ On Wednesday he banned their accounts.
      Pavel Durov knew that terrorists might be using his app to communicate. And he decided it was something he could live with.

      “I think that privacy, ultimately, and our right for privacy is more important than our fear of bad things happening, like terrorism,” the founder of Telegram, a highly secure messaging app, said at a TechCrunch panel in September when asked if he “slept well at night” knowing his technology was used for violence.
    • From Paris to Boston, Terrorists Were Already Known to Authorities
      WHENEVER A TERRORIST ATTACK OCCURS, it never takes long for politicians to begin calling for more surveillance powers. The horrendous attacks in Paris last week, which left more than 120 people dead, are no exception to this rule. In recent days, officials in the United Kingdom and the United States have been among those arguing that more surveillance of Internet communications is necessary to prevent further atrocities.

      The case for expanded surveillance of communications, however, is complicated by an analysis of recent terrorist attacks. The Intercept has reviewed 10 high-profile jihadi attacks carried out in Western countries between 2013 and 2015 (see below), and in each case some or all of the perpetrators were already known to the authorities before they executed their plot. In other words, most of the terrorists involved were not ghost operatives who sprang from nowhere to commit their crimes; they were already viewed as a potential threat, yet were not subjected to sufficient scrutiny by authorities under existing counterterrorism powers. Some of those involved in last week’s Paris massacre, for instance, were already known to authorities; at least three of the men appear to have been flagged at different times as having been radicalized, but warning signs were ignored.

    • Your Phone Is Listening—Literally Listening—to Your TV
      The TV is on in the background, and you’re replying to a quick email on your phone nearby. You don’t know it, but the devices are communicating. During a commercial, the TV emits an inaudible tone and your phone, which was listening for it, picks it up. Somewhere far away, a server makes a note: Both devices probably belong to you.

      This information about which devices belong to whom is immensely valuable to advertisers hoping to target ads specifically to you. In a simpler time, targeted marketing was easy. Most people had a computer at work and maybe another at home. If you sent an email about your new cat, ads for cat food started cropping up. If you searched for Thanksgiving recipes, Safeway coupons for turkeys appeared in your Facebook newsfeed.
    • NSA: Remember that mass email slurping we stopped? Well...
      Newly revealed documents (not from Snowden this time) show that the NSA has continued to collect Americans' email traffic using overseas offices to get around curbs introduced domestically.

      Shortly after the September 11 attacks, President Bush authorized the NSA to collect bulk metadata on emails sent by Americans (although not the content) to help The War Against Terror (TWAT). The surveillance was authorized by the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which mostly rubberstamped such requests.

      But the collection was stopped in 2011, the NSA said, although it still monitored emails from Americans to people outside the nation's borders. However, a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit started by The New York Times against the NSA's Inspector General has uncovered documents showing that the NSA carried on collecting domestic data.

      To get around the restrictions on operating in the USA, the NSA simply started using its overseas offices to do the collection. Stations like RAF Menwith Hill in Yorkshire were tasked with collecting the metadata and feeding it back to the NSA headquarters in Maryland.

    • Don’t Blame Edward Snowden for the Paris Attacks
      Soon after John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, took the stage on Wednesday, at the annual conference of the Overseas Security Advisory Council, in Washington, D.C., he suggested that members of the audience might be aware of certain remarks he’d made in the aftermath of ISIS’s assault on Paris last Friday. But he also thought that they might have figured him wrong: “I invite you to look at what I said as opposed to what has been unfortunately misrepresented in some quarters, by my friends in the fourth estate.”

      What had been reported was that Brennan had blamed Edward Snowden, at least in part, for the terrorist attack in Paris. What he said came in response to Josh Rogin, of Bloomberg View, who, on Monday, at a forum held by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, had asked about the blame for the attack. It was, of course, “primarily at the feet of the terrorists,” but nonetheless Rogin asked, “How was this allowed to happen? . . . What went wrong?” Brennan replied, “In the past several years, because of a number of unauthorized disclosures and a lot of hand-wringing over the government’s role in the effort to try to uncover these terrorists, there have been some policy and legal and other actions that are taken that make our ability collectively, internationally, to find these terrorists much more challenging.” It is hard to tell the difference between that sentiment and the headline assessment that he had blamed Snowden—Brennan was not being particularly coy in his reference to “unauthorized disclosures.” As the Times wrote in an editorial, on Wednesday, “What he calls ‘hand-wringing’ was the sustained national outrage following the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, that the agency was using provisions of the Patriot Act to secretly collect information on millions of Americans’ phone records.” James Woolsey, Brennan’s predecessor, was even more intemperate after the Paris attacks, saying that Snowden had “blood on his hands.” On Thursday, Woolsey added that Snowden should be “hanged.”
    • Encryption is not the enemy
      The terrorist attacks in Paris last week left people angry and fearful. But rather than listen to the age-old advice to never make decisions when you're mad, too many American politicians and security officials have rushed to propose measures that further erode individual freedoms and, yes, security.

      In place of reasoned proposals that might actually improve security, knee-jerk reactions have centered on two areas: increasing government surveillance powers and banning encryption because terrorists use it to communicate.

    • Supporter Newsletter: November 2015
      But over the last couple of days, we've heard politicians call for the IPB to be fast tracked through Parliament and we’ve been asked what we think of this. We understand that people are rightly concerned about surveillance powers in the UK, but this is not the time to rush through legislation.

    • UK cops allegedly snooped on journalists to hunt down police whistleblower
      The UK's Police Federation has written to the Independent Police Complaints Commission about the alleged use of the UK's main surveillance law by Cleveland Police to snoop on three journalists, with the hope of using that surveillance to identify a whistleblower among its own ranks.

      The Federation, which is the staff association for all police constables, sergeants, and inspectors, claims that the phone records of a serving police officer, three journalists on The Northern Echo, a solicitor, and Police Federation representatives, were all targeted using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). As The Northern Echo writes, the alleged request to obtain phone data "was in part made to track down the source of a front-page story The Northern Echo ran in 2012, when it revealed an internal report at Cleveland Police had uncovered elements of institutional racism."

      What makes the case particularly noteworthy is that the surveillance law allegedly used by Cleveland Police was not used to investigate a serious crime, but to winkle out a public-spirited whistleblower revealing possible problems in the same force. Arguably, Cleveland Police should have been pursuing those causing the problems instead.

  • Civil Rights

    • Stephen Colbert’s horrifying warning: Get used to President Trump
      For the first time ever, Donald Trump has captured 42 percent of Republican primary voters according to the latest poll that Stephen Colbert quoted on Tuesday night’s “Late Show.” If that freaks you out, you’re not alone. Colbert says that this has the Republican establishment shaking in their wingtips.

    • “The most heinous thing I have ever heard”: One Kansas woman’s ordeal over the use of medical marijuana
      You don’t want to be a medical marijuana patient in Kansas. You could face, arrest, prosecution, imprisonment, and the loss of your children. Just ask Shona Banda, who endured the latest chapter of her ordeal Monday.

      The Garden City mother faces five marijuana-related charges, including three felonies, and had her 11-year-old son taken away by the state after the boy piped up during an anti-drug class at school to say that his mom “smokes a lot.”

    • TSA Protester Needs Your Help
      In 2012 John Brennan protested the TSA by stripping nude in an Oregon airport, his actions were ruled a fully legal protest under Oregon law. Despite that ruling, the TSA insists on fining him $500.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • So This Is How Net Neutrality Dies
      Ever since the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality rules went into effect earlier this year, we've been waiting for the other shoe to drop. The telecom industry and major internet service providers put considerable lobbying weight into stopping the FCC's new rules—anyone paying attention knew that the industry's initial loss wouldn't be the end of this saga.

    • Comcast May Have Found a Major Net Neutrality Loophole
      Comcast may have found a major loophole in the Federal Communication Commission’s network neutrality regulations.

      Earlier this month the company launched a new streaming video service for Comcast broadband customers called Stream TV. The service, which is only available in the greater Boston and Chicago areas so far, allows you to watch HBO as well as live local television stations on your computer, tablet or laptop. The catch is that the service will only work from your home.

  • DRM

    • Apple boss says finding music online is too 'difficult' for women. Seriously
      It’s a problem we ladies just can’t wrap our silly little heads round – how on earth do we go about finding music online? You know, those things called songs to listen to when we’re with our girlfriends sobbing over having our fragile hearts broken by cruel boys.

      Well, fear not womankind – the answer is here. At least, according to Apple Music boss Jimmy Iovine it is. He went on CBS This Morning to helpfully explain how the product was inspired by his realisation that women needed help locating tunes on the actual real-life internet.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Is There Hope For Better WIPO Administration-Staff Relations?
      It is typical for the staff association at international organisations to vent complaints, but at the annual WIPO General Assembly held from 5-14 October, the WIPO association president used particularly strong language to describe the situation at the agency.

      “WIPO continues to go through some very difficult years,” the association president, Brett Fitzgerald, an American, said in a prepared statement [pdf] to the WIPO Coordination Committee in a closed session. The Coordination Committee is an important body of more than 80 out of the 188 members of WIPO.

    • EFF, Public Knowledge File Comments to Help Fix the Patent Office
      EFF and Public Knowledge filed comments today at the United States Patent and Trademark Office discussing proposed changes to Patent Office trials. Our comments focus on making the process more fair and accessible for small entities that need to challenge bad patents.

    • Copyrights

      • Movie Studio Will Interrogate Suspected Popcorn Time Users
        The makers of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler are allowed to interrogate Internet subscribers whose connections were used to pirate the film, a federal court has ruled. The filmmakers requested the depositions in order to discover the true identities of several Popcorn Time pirates.

      • State Board Moves to Sanction Prenda Lawyer
        John Steele and Paul Hansmeier formed a law firm which concentrated on copyright matters, which is to say, they sued John Does and sometimes individuals for allegedly downloading or sharing copyrighted pornographic videos. Steele Hansmeier became Prenda Law, which was succeeded by Hansmeier's Alpha Law Firm. More recently, Paul Hansmeier's law firm Class Justice has been suing small businesses for allegedly illegally discriminating against disabled people.

      • Rightscorp Burns $4 For Every Dollar Pirates Pay in Fines
        Piracy monetization firm Rightscorp has just turned in another set of disappointing results for the third quarter of 2015. After losing $424K during the three months ended September 30, the company has recorded a net loss of $3.1m for 2015 thus far. That means that for every dollar it receives in fines, the company loses $4.

      • Republican candidate hit with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ copyright lawsuit
        The author of the hit song “Eye of the Tiger” has sued Republican presidential candidate hopeful Mike Huckabee for the alleged unauthorised use of the track at a rally against gay marriage.

        Frank Sullivan co-authored the song in his time with the band Survivor and established music label Rude Music, the plaintiff in the copyright claim.

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