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Links 11/2/2016: LibreOffice 5.1, HMRC and FOSS

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • SourceForge Loses DevShare

  • SourceForge Acquisition and Future Plans
    Our first order of business was to terminate the “DevShare” program. As of last week, the DevShare program was completely eliminated. The DevShare program delivered installer bundles as part of the download for participating projects. We want to restore our reputation as a trusted home for open source software, and this was a clear first step towards that. We’re more interested in doing the right thing than making extra short-term profit. As we move forward, we will be focusing on the needs of our developers and visitors by building out site features and establishing community trust. Eliminating the DevShare program was just the first step of many more to come. Plans for the near future include full https support for both SourceForge and Slashdot, and a lot more changes we think developers and end-users will embrace.

  • Stealth Company Datawise Makes Contributions to Kubernetes
    This year is shaping up to be a big one for container technology, and the Container Summit conference is going on this week in New York. At the event, Datawise, a stealth company developing network and storage solutions for Linux containers, announced that its contributions for container networking and storage have been accepted for the upcoming release of Kubernetes. Kubernetes, of course, is the open source container management system pioneered by Google and now supported by many leading open source vendors.

    Here is more on what Datawise intends to bring to Kubernetes.

  • Google Releases ION OpenGL Open-Source Library
    Google engineers have open-sourced today a new suite of libraries and tools relating to OpenGL called ION.

    Details are limited thus far and without yet diving into the source code, ION is described as "a portable suite of libraries and tools for building client applications, especially graphical ones. It is small, fast, and robust, and is cross-platform across many platforms and devices, including desktops, mobile devices, browsers, and other embedded platforms."

  • San Francisco prepares to open source its voting system software
    San Francisco, home of the tech startup, is trying to show its tech credentials by becoming the first city to use open source software for elections.

    The proposal to adopt a solution in time for the end of the current contract on January 1, 2017 reappeared at the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday when Supervisor Scott Wiener called for a hearing on how the city is progressing with the plan to use standard hardware and open-source software to carry out future balloting.

  • Open source demonstrates the future of work
    Open source communities and projects are examples of non-standard work structures that are successfully productive while existing outside typical paradigms for "work." OpenSSL, for example, is an incredibly important software library that serves a large majority of websites across the web. The authors of the software, ranging from one time collaborators to continuous contributors, have collectively forged arguably the most important networking encryption library to date, and they've done it outside traditional business models. The software is a the result of effort from a diverse community of volunteers working on "their own time," rather than on the rigid production model of a proprietary software development firm.

  • Open source in the enterprise brings opportunities and challenges
    The final challenge open source presents relates to staff skills. Simply put, open source requires a higher level of technical talent than traditional proprietary solutions, because there’s a world of difference between building a solution and operating someone else’s solution. The latter is the world of certifications and cookie-cutter solutions; the former requires creativity, self-reliance, and technical chops. Newly-hired technical employees tend to come with open source experience and an inclination toward self-generated solutions, while many long-term IT employees are much more comfortable with a vendor-centric world. However, most organizations can’t (and shouldn’t) do a wholesale replacement of personnel. So IT organizations face the task of reskilling existing employees, integrating new staff, all while architecting new systems and ripping out old ones.

  • UCLA researchers release open source code for powerful image detection algorithm
    A UCLA Engineering research group has made public the computer code for an algorithm that helps computers process images at high speeds and “see” them in ways that human eyes cannot. The researchers say the code could eventually be used in face, fingerprint and iris recognition for high-tech security, as well as in self-driving cars’ navigation systems or for inspecting industrial products.

    The algorithm performs a mathematical operation that identifies objects’ edges and then detects and extracts their features. It also can enhance images and recognize objects’ textures.

  • Events

    • My first travelling experience to Myanmar
      We were instructed to go very early at 8:30AM in the morning at the Myanmar ICT (MICT) Park to be able register our topics that we wish to talk for the BarCamp Yangon. Finally we arrived early as the hotel and venue is very closer and on the time of the event opening ceremony and everything were spoken in Burmese.

    • First timer’s guide to FOSS conferences
      I’ve been going to FOSS (free and open source) conferences since 2006. My first open source conference was FreedomHEC in Seattle, a little 30-person conference for Linux users to protest Microsoft’s WinHEC. My next open source conference was OSCON, which had over a thousand attendees. They were both very different conferences, and as a college student, I really didn’t know what to expect. Going to your first open source conference can be intimidating, so I’ve complied ten tips for people who are new to the conference circuit.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Chrome on Android communicates with smart devices around you
        Folks running Chrome on iOS have had a chance to tap into the Physical Web devices around them since last July, but Google's finally opened that functionality up to its own ecosystem. To that end, Chrome 49 on Android will support the objects (like parking meters, for instance). The first time you encounter one there will be a push notification alerting you one is nearby, and future run-ins will populate a list of the gadgets nearby. It's starting in the beta channel, a post on the Chromium Blog notes, with wider support rolling out soon. In case you're curious of how it all looks in action, the GIF below should give you a good idea.

      • Google issues Chrome update to fix Windows, Mac, and Linux bugs
        Google issued a Chrome update to address Windows, Mac, and Linux vulnerabilities that, if exploited, would allow remote attackers to take control of affected systems.

    • Mozilla

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Why open source can save companies from drowning in the data lake
      The end goal of any big data initiative is to deliver key insights very quickly, if not in real-time. While the first step of gathering data is challenging, today’s technology is more than capable of this.

      What comes next – extracting accurate insights in real-time and gaining foresight from it – is something enterprises have yet to nail.

      When put to good use, data can provide endless opportunities for innovation and growth, saving money and time, while also expediting services. Despite the opportunity to yield big insights from big data, many businesses are struggling with one of two challenges: those unable to tap their big data reserves and those drowning in data overload.

    • OpenStack Keystone Q and A with the Boston University Distributed Systems Class Part 1

    • How Open Source is Driving New Innovations in Data Analytics
      It wasn’t long ago when open source software was on the fringe of cutting edge technology. The software then was rough, untested and insecure. No longer is this the case. From tiny startups to the largest Fortune 20 companies, open source technology is permeating every corner of the business world.

  • Cisco

  • LibreOffice

  • HMRC

  • Education

  • Apple/Openwashing

  • Funding

    • VCs who miss the point of open source shouldn't fund it
      The errors highlighted here are not merely mistakes; rather, they reveal a worldview. People who believe that Apache is a competitor, OSI approves licenses that permit monopolization, Red Hat is a business that’s succeeded through artificial scarcity, and open source communities with diverse agendas are "broken" are not the people you want in your new open source business.

      They will try to persuade you to secure software patents so that they have an asset to trade when you fail; they will eject you from your own company when you try to hold true to software freedom principles; and they will treat your business as a failure if all it does is earn a decent living for you and your employees. You may want to grow your open source-based business another way.

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • U.S. Cyber Effort Targets Open Source Software
      A growing list of cyber attacks targeting U.S. government employees has prompted the Obama administration to launch a high-profile cyber security effort that among others things will target Internet "utilities" such as open source software.

      The Cybersecurity National Action Plan announced by the White House on Tuesday (Feb. 9) as part of its annual budget submission to Congress gives the Internet and its components equal status with other critical infrastructure. The initiative responds to massive data breaches such as last year's hack of the Office of Personnel Management. The personal data of 21.5 million federal employers may have been stolen in the breach.

    • UNICEF Is Launching A Venture Fund For Open-Source Civic Technology
      From unmanned aerial vehicles to 3-D printing, new technology has a lot of potential to "flatten" the world and spread social good. And now, by launching its first venture capital-type fund for civic technology, the United Nations wants to accelerate the development of those ideas.

    • UNICEF innovation fund is looking for open source tech
      “We’ll be identifying opportunities from countries around the world including some that may not see a lot of capital investment in technology start-ups. We are hoping to identify communities of problem-solvers and help them develop simple solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing children,” says UNICEF Innovation co-lead, Christopher Fabian in a recent statement.

  • Licensing

    • Confused by license compatibility? A new article by Richard Stallman may help
      Richard Stallman has published a new guide on titled License compatibility and relicensing. is home to a whole host of resources on free software licensing, including frequently asked questions about GNU licenses and our list of free software licenses. Our license list contains information on which licenses are compatible with the GNU General Public License as well as a brief description of what it means to be compatible. This latest article by Stallman provides a more in–depth explanation of what compatibility means and the different ways in which it is achieved.

    • The most important part of your project might not even be a line of code
      What is licensing? Why does it matter? Why should you care? There are many reasons that licensing is an important part of a project you are working on. You are taking the time to write code and share it with the world in an open way, such as publishing it on GitHub, Bitbucket, or any number of other code-hosting services. Anyone might stumble across your code and find it useful.

      Licensing is the way that you can control exactly how someone who finds your code can use it and in what ways.

    • Happy GPL Birthday VLC!
      The ever-popular VLC turned 15 a few days ago--that's 15 years since the project was GPLed and released to the world. If we were pedants, we might point out that the project actually came into existence in 1996, but that was a different lifetime.

      VLC originally was a very different application. For one thing, it was a closed-source project, and its original purpose was to stream videos from a satellite receiver to a computer science lab.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Unity Getting Native Cardboard Support, Design Lab App Going Open Source

    • Open Access/Content

      • SGA, MassPIRG work together on open source textbook initiative
        Members of the Student Government Association and MassPIRG are seeking further support from the University of Massachusetts Provost of Academic Affairs Katherine Newman for the W.E.B. Du Bois Library’s Open Education Initiative.

        The OEI, which has been operating for six years, provides UMass professors with $1,000 grants to write their own textbooks and syllabi using information which has an open copyright license.

        “Our goal this semester is to get 10 to 15 professors to sign onto Open Education,” said Chris Earls, the SGA’s secretary of University policy and a senior political science and economics major.

        Earls and Matthew Martin, coordinator of MassPIRG’s Affordable Textbooks Campaign, wrote an open letter to Newman in which they argued that open source textbooks were an affordable solution to the rising costs of college textbooks.

    • Open Hardware

      • Turning Open Source into a Multicore Standard
        Hoping to forestall potential compatibility issues, the Multicore Association is looking to build an API standard on the shoulders of open-source OpenAMP.

      • France Craft Pixel: an Open Source Electric Car
        The all-electric Chevy Bolt was the automotive star of the 2016 CES show, for sure- but there was more to the electric vehicle side of the Las Vegas show than just the efforts of Tesla and the Big Three. Meet the Pixel, a modular, “open source” electric hybrid vehicle designed by France Craft.

  • Programming

    • GitHub's Atom 1.5 Hackable Text Editor Out Now, Atom 1.6 Enters Beta Testing
      On February 9, 2016, GitHub's devs made some big announcements for its awesome and acclaimed Atom open-source hackable text editor, which reached stable version 1.5 for all supported operating systems.

    • Big? GitHub Enterprise 2.5 thinks massive
      Keeping up its push to be an enterprise presence, GitHub has announced the latest version of the for-pay, enterprise edition of its code-hosting platform.

      The company says GitHub Enterprise 2.5's focus is "companies operating at massive scale" -- enterprises with more than 10,000 developers and exponential year-over-year growth. The new toolset for GitHub Enterprise 2.5 helps large teams add new users, collaborate safely on large projects, and deal with GitHub-related performance issues that can crop up around such large projects.


  • Don’t Spam, Don’t Spy; Ask Permission and Satisfy - Musings on media, advertising and big data
    Zero point five-six percent. Just over one half of one percent? And this they think is good news? To borrow the phrase from Monty Python and the Holy Grail - "I fart in your general direction!" If you are doing under 1% reactions for your advertising on mobile, you are FAILING. Get out of the business. You are a waste. You are polluting the gene pool. Its exactly what I have preached forever in mobile: Don’t spam !!! Its spam !!! Don’t spam !! (Recently I’ve evolved that even further so now I say: Don’t spam, don’t spy; ask permission and satisfy!)

  • Here’s How Well Twitter’s Execs Use Twitter—Or, Um, Not
    The company has struggled to attract new tweeters to join its free-wheeling service, and its stock has spiraled to an all-time low this year. Despite Twitter’s efforts, many users continue to face abuse and harassment, and terrorists have disseminated propaganda on the service. In a somewhat self-conscious move, the company rolled out a set of new features this week ahead of its quarterly earnings report , including a new Trust & Safety Council as well as changes to how the Twitter feed works.

  • Science

    • Prominent scientist: “One-fifth of people will believe anything”
      Emeritus Professor Esko Valtaoja says the internet is like an endless ocean of knowledge – but there is plenty of rubbish to be found in the deep. In a television appearance Wednesday morning, the recently retired quasar researcher and award-winning writer encouraged everyone to take a month-long break from social media.


      The information revolution has now made more data available in contemporary society than people have time to consume in a lifetime. Valtaoja says that for a long time, it was easy to believe that there were certain absolute truths, because information was much harder to find.

      There are still people who believe in absolutes, he says, but they are quickly becoming the minority.

      “We jump about rather nervously trying to ascertain the truth, even in this matter,” he says.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Flint e-mails: CDC voiced concerns over Legionnaires' actions
      More than eight months before Gov. Rick Snyder disclosed a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in the Flint area, federal health officials worried a lack of cooperation in Michigan could be hampering the public health response.

      Thousands of pages of e-mails obtained by the Detroit Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act on Monday show increasing concern about the quality of the Flint's drinking water as tensions grew over a lack of coordination to combat the waterborne disease.

      County health officials were warned for reaching out to federal experts for help while they struggled to persuade Flint city officials to provide needed information, the e-mails show. Others in e-mails wondered about ethical breaches and the possibility of a cover-up.

    • Dems accuse Mich. governor of ducking accountability in Flint
      House Democratic leaders are heaping new scorn on Gov. Rick Snyder, accusing the Michigan Republican of ducking his responsibilities to the victims of the Flint water crisis.

      "If you have it within your power to correct your mistake, to make it up to those whom you wronged, you have a moral obligation to do that," Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), who represents Flint, told reporters Wednesday. "He hasn't done that. The governor of Michigan has treated this as … a public relations problem for him, not a public health crisis for 100,000 people."

    • Too many Flints to count: America’s infrastructure is rotting — and poisoning our children
      “I know if I was a parent up there, I would be beside myself if my kids’ health could be at risk,” said President Obama on a recent trip to Michigan. “Up there” was Flint, a rusting industrial city in the grip of a “water crisis” brought on by a government austerity scheme. To save a couple of million dollars, that city switched its source of water from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a long-time industrial dumping ground for the toxic industries that had once made their home along its banks. Now, the city is enveloped in a public health emergency, with elevated levels of lead in its water supply and in the blood of its children.

    • Flint fuels finger pointing, political maneuvering
      As the Flint water crisis evolves from ongoing public health crisis to the search for a costly solution, the situation also has taken on the air of a football game, a political football game, that is.

      “Some of the actions seem to be more about the people making the statements rather than helping the people of Flint,” said Lansing political consultant Tom Shields, of Marketing Resource Group. “It’s tough not to be cynical because it has become such a political football.”

      The crisis over lead-tainted water has become fodder for local, state and national politics where Democrats are assigning blame to the Republican-led administration of Gov. Rick Snyder and Republicans are pointing the finger at Democrats in Flint as well as the Environmental Protection Agency under the control of President Barack Obama.

    • Remember 11th February 2016. It's the day Jeremy Hunt tried to kill the NHS
      We joke about Mr Hunt having shares in Australian emigration, but really this is no laughing matter. Record amounts are leaving the country - or the medical profession altogether

    • Jeremy Hunt imposes contract on junior doctors in brutal end to "damaging" pay row
      He was given the green light in a letter last night from NHS chief negotiator Sir David Dalton, after his 11th-hour "final offer" to doctors' union the British Medical Association was rejected.

  • Security

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Government Lawyers Think Open Records Reform Proposal Hands Over Too Much Power To The People
      The state of Massachusetts has some of the worst open records laws in the nation, which have not been updated since the 1970s. The main problem is the statutes provide no deterrence for abusive behavior by government agencies and very little in the way of recourse for public records requesters.

      The laws -- as they stand now -- operate on the presumption of secrecy, which is completely antithetical to the purpose and spirit of the statutes. There's really no reason the state's public record laws should contain this much secretive bloat. Here's Allison Manning of detailing just one of the many problems with the laws.

    • Here’s how bad public records laws are in Massachusetts
      I spent the last five years as a police reporter in Columbus, Ohio, before moving back home to Boston a few months ago. What I’ve rediscovered about my home state: Our public records laws are abysmal, especially compared to those elsewhere.

    • Will Swedish prosecutors question Assange in London?
      A Swedish prosecutor still aims to question Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over a rape allegation in Sweden, despite a UN report condemning Sweden for his 'arbitrary detention'.

    • The Continuing Saga of Julian Assange
      The Swedish prosecutor’s office says it is working on a renewed request to interview the Wikileaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

    • Lies about Assange and UN human rights jurists imperil us all
      The defence secretary, 'comedians' on BBC Radio's News Quiz, and the entire media commentariat have ganged up this weekend up to pour mockery and poisonous lies over Julian Assange and the UN's human rights jurists, writes Jonathan Cook. As they attempt to fight off the UN's 'guilty' verdict against the British state, they are putting dissidents at risk everywhere.

    • Federal Judge Not Amused By State Department's Continued Withholding Of Hillary Clinton's Emails
      Contreras undersells the public interest -- which has been high ever since it was discovered Clinton had been conducting official (and sensitive) business using a private email server. Now that Clinton is a presidential candidate, the release of the emails could adversely affect her campaign.

      I don't believe the State Department has a personal stake in Clinton's potential presidency, but it's operating in a way that would encourage people to come to that conclusion. Instead, this is likely business as usual for the agency.

      For one, government agencies protect their own. Clinton's use of a private server makes the State Department look bad because no one with the power to do so ever made an effort to shut her down. Released emails show Clinton dealt with classified material, something that should never have been routed to a private email account. The State Department's lackadaisical handling of this matter would only be highlighted further by additional releases.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Indonesia’s Anti-Corruption Fight
      Corruption has once again taken center stage in Indonesia, following the resignation in December of House Speaker Setya Novanto for being caught attempting to extort Indonesia’s largest taxpayer, U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan’s subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia, and mounting evidence that the devastating fires that negatively impacted the country late last year, to the tune of $30 billion, were fueled by local corruption. Political infighting has meant that Indonesia’s long-simmering, critically important fight against corruption has been in limbo for nearly a year, and soon President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will face a decision whether or not to make fighting corruption the centerpoint of his administration, or its downfall.

      To the surprise of many, Indonesia actually improved in the recently released Corruption Perception Index, moving up from 107th last year to 88th this year, which the organization credited to improvements in the country’s bureaucracy and public services – initiatives pushed forward by Jokowi – but also partly to increasing corruption in other countries. However, the report noted that Indonesia could take a huge step forward if it empowered its once famous, internationally renowned anti-corruption agency.

      That would be Indonesia’s most trusted public institution, the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, KPK). The KPK has made a reputation for itself globally for thoroughly investigating, researching, and trying high-level targets, and, in its first 13 years, achieving an astounding 100% conviction rate.

    • Indonesian forest fires 'most expensive disaster in 2015'
      The biggest economic disaster in 2015 was the Indonesian forest fires that cost $16.1bn, according to a report.

      The fires, caused mainly by illegal slash and burn clearing of forest areas for crops including palm oil, cost the country around 1.9% of its GDP, said Aon Benfield.

      In its annual catastrophe report the company said that while 2015 replaced 2014 as the warmest year on record, global economic losses from natural catastrophes stood at $123bn – 30% below the 15-year average of $175bn.

      The report said 300 separate global natural disasters occurred in 2015, above the 15-year average of 269 events.

    • 5 Realities Of Smog So Bad It Blots Out The Sun
      Beijing, we're finding out, has the kind of pollution that makes it seem like you're downwind from a freaking volcano eruption. But, a picture like that doesn't get across the reality of life in a place where the air actively hates you. We sat down with an anonymous source who works as a magazine editor in Beijing, who told us ...

    • Palm oil is in everything and it’s killing rain forests, endangered species and people. Here’s how.
      In September and October 2015, one of the worst environmental disasters of the 21st century happened in Indonesia. And despite its apocalyptic consequences, the story was largely ignored by the western media.

      In order to clear the Indonesian rain forest for a palm oil, it was lit completely on fire. A toxic cloud of haze resulted, hanging over Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore for weeks. The haze killed people and endangered wildlife, and put the lives of millions of others at risk -– all for the benefit of a selected few.

  • Finance

    • Yanis Varoufakis: Europe is sliding back into the 1930s and we need a new movement
      Former Greek finance minister says Europe is disintegrating, run by a cartel and in dire need of reform.

    • First Report From Inside Germany's New TAFTA/TTIP Reading Room Reveals Text's Dirty Secret
      Last week we wrote about the only place that German politicians are currently allowed to view the latest texts of TAFTA/TTIP: a tiny room, guarded at all times, and involving all kinds of humiliating restrictions for visitors. Katja Kipping was one of the first to enter, and she has written up her experiences for lesser mortals like you and me, who are not permitted to besmirch this sacred place with our unworthy presence.

    • Labour furious as 83% of fund to ease council cuts will go to Conservative authorities
      Labour MPs have expressed their fury after Tory rebels dropped their objections to council cuts because of a new €£300m government fund to ease funding difficulties in mostly wealthy Conservative-run areas.

      Greg Clark, the communities secretary, insisted the new cash was not a “political bung” to stop up to 30 Tories revolting against the local government settlement.

      However, several Tory MPs openly acknowledged they were persuaded to back the government only after the new “transitional relief” was announced, of which about 83% will go to Conservative councils.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • A map of the world according to Donald Trump

    • YIKES: We just found out what Hillary said in her Goldman Sachs speeches
      As both Democrat candidates like to portray themselves as an enemy of the financial industry, Bernie Sanders appears to have more leverage (to borrow a finance term). He’s blasted Hillary Clinton for taking over $600,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs in early debates, and has continued his criticism into the Democrat town hall debates.

      We don’t know exactly what was said in those speeches because Hillary refuses to release the transcripts, but the attendees at those speeches haven’t forgotten. They’re speaking out, and it doesn’t bode well for Hillary.

    • Is Britain full? Home truths about the population panic
      The northern ticket hall of King’s Cross St Pancras tube station is supposed to be a wonder of the London underground, with its expanses of gleaming floor and high-ceilinged walkways that would be wide enough for cars. In 2008, the tube’s then managing director, Tim O’Toole, assured the London Evening Standard that, with the new hall, which cost €£395m, “the underground station complex will ... be capable of handling all the extra demand predicted for years ahead”.

  • Censorship

    • Now, filmmakers turn to Youtube to beat censorship
      With censorship issues plaguing the film industry, filmmakers are now looking to release movies on Youtube and other internet sites that do not create hurdles to their creative freedom. In fact, as if to cock a snook at the issue of censorship, director Ram Gopal Varma has announced a film titled `Single X', which would be dedicated to the censor board.

    • Ram Gopal Varma says goodbye to Telugu films

    • Index unveils 2016 Freedom of Expression Awards shortlist
      An Aleppo-based journalist training women to report on the crisis in war-torn Syria, an Indonesian comic who jokes about Islamic extremism and a 19-year-old campaigner against repression in Eritrea are among those shortlisted for the 2016 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards.

      Drawn from more than 400 crowdsourced nominations, the Index awards shortlist celebrates artists, writers, journalists and campaigners tackling censorship and fighting for freedom of expression. Many of the 20 shortlisted nominees are regularly targeted by authorities or by criminal and extremist groups for their work: some face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution.

    • Méxicoleaks recognized by the Index on Censorship for digital activism
      Méxicoleaks, a digital platform that accepts anonymous information from the public, has made the shortlist for the 2016 Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Awards in the category of digital activism.

      “In a country where, between drug cartels and the government, censorship and self-censorship is rife, Méxicoleaks is on the forefront of the fight against corruption,” said the Index on Censorship website.

    • Twitter’s Most Harmlessly Charming Account Was Mysteriously Suspended
      The account was so simple it’s kind of a miracle that it wasn’t done before. That reasoning, however, is the most probable explanation we have for why it got banned.

    • For Israeli bloggers, the rules are the same but different
      That changed last week when reports emerged indicating as many as 30 well-trafficked Israeli blogs and popular Facebook users would henceforth be required to submit copy to the military censor prior to publication. As the news spread, some of those affected by the new rules lashed out online, questioning whether the military – and, by extension, the state – was actively trying to limit freedom of expression. A few even vowed to circumvent censorship, though, given that the office of the military censor already possesses algorithmic technology to root out problematic web posts, this seems easier said than done.

    • Israel Censoring Bloggers
      Israel is like other fascist police states, wanting criticisms of its ruthless policies suppressed.

      Its new military censor, Col. Ariela Ben-Avraham, demanded bloggers and social media users submit their material for screening before posting.

      Failure will be considered a crime. Regime critics risk prosecution, censorship now elevated to a higher level.

      Israel wants control over pre-published material relating to its policies - vetted so anything it disapproves of gets trashed, the right of free expression abolished.

    • University of Calgary student art show cut short after censorship confusion
      A student took down their show after they weren't happy with the University of Calgary's treatment of the art show

    • Twitter launches Trust and Safety Council to help put end to trolling
      The Twitter Trust & Safety Council will initially be formed of around 40 bodies, including the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, EU Kids Online, ICT Watch, National Cyber Security Alliance, NetSafe, and Samaritans.

      These organisations, along with safety experts, academics and security researchers, will work to ensure a safe and secure platform for users to express themselves freely and without fear.

      The company said in a release that the Council’s main focus will be to protect minors, encourage ‘greater compassion and empathy on the internet,’ and promote efforts in media literacy and digital citizenship. It added that community groups will also participate to help prevent online ‘abuse, harassment, and bullying,’ as well as mental health problems and suicide.

    • Twitter forms anti-troll team to tackle online torment and threats
      MICROBLOGGING WEBSITE Twitter has put together an anti-troll squad to help protect users from abuse and threats.

    • Say Hello To Twitter’s Tweet Police
      Now Twitter is going to tell us all how to express ourselves by forming a ‘Trust and Safety Council.’ That’s not intimidating or anything.

    • Censorship incoming? Twitter partners with Islamists and radical feminists to create 'safe space'
      Social media website Twitter is creating a “Trust & Safety Council” to stop and censor opinions that might upset Islamists and radical feminists such as Anita Sarkeesian.

    • Twitter forms safety council to help prevent abuse

    • Twitter’s latest social justice brainwave is to implement an Orwellian “Trust & Safety Council”
      The move by Twitter to further police speech which doesn’t agree with its social justice worldview doesn’t come as a surprise and follows on from the possible news earlier this week that they were planning to control what content appears in people’s timelines by implementing an algorithmic timeline, ostensibly to censor speech that they don’t want people to read.

    • EDITORIAL: Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council won’t halt cyberbullying
      Facebook allows users to report offensive posts and follows through on investigating and disabling hateful accounts. Instagram immediately takes down photos that violate its community guidelines, and it has sometimes even gotten carried away in doing so.

    • Twitter Unveils New 'Trust and Safety Council' Featuring Feminist Frequency
      Among the members are the Anti-Defamation League, Childnet International, Thorn, Family Online Safety Institute, the Dangerous Speech Project, and the University of California-Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center.

    • Twitter Forms A “Trust and Safety Council” to Balance Abuse Vs Free Speech
      Twitter has taken the steps for balancing free speech without also handing a free pass to orchestrated harassment via its platform. According to the announcement, the company is establishing a “Trust & Safety Council”.

    • Twitter Announces Safety Panel Then Bans an Account Critical of Twitter Safety
      On the day Twitter announced a new “Trust and Safety Council,” the social network again suspended an account that calls attention to the plight of people who have been harassed on Twitter.

      My colleague Sarah Jeong followed the saga of Trusty Support, a Twitter Support parody account that has been, as she wrote, “lampooning the absurdities of the Report Abuse system” by tweeting about the network’s canned and automated responses to harassment and death threats.

    • Twitter announces 'trust and safety' panel to police content
      Twitter on Tuesday announced the formation of a new “Trust and Safety Council,” which will work to develop policies censoring speech on the site. The group will be comprised of more than 40 organizations from 13 regions around the world. “With hundreds of millions of tweets sent per day, the volume of content on Twitter is massive, which makes it extraordinarily complex to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and speaking truth to power,” Twitter said in a statement.

    • New ‘Trust and Safety Council’ Is Twitter Version of 1984’s Ministry of Truth
      In order for users to feel confident expressing themselves “freely and safely,” Twitter is debuting a new advisory group dubbed the “Trust & Safety Council.” But a quick glance at its membership roster suggests the council is almost as Orwellian as it sounds—and overwhelmingly biased in favor of speech suppression.

      If you thought Milo Yiannopoulos losing his blue checkmark was the opening salvo in the next great culture war (I tended to agree with Popehat’s Ken White that the controversy was overblown), then this might be your virtual invasion of Poland.

    • Twitter's growth screeches to a halt
      Twitter's growth stalled at the end of last year as the number of people using the service flatlined, raising yet more questions about the troubled service.

      The social network announced that monthly users had stubbornly remained at 320 million in the fourth quarter of 2015, the first time it has reported no growth in active members.
    • Jewish Group Lauds Twitter Council Established to Combat Extremism
      The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) applauds Jack Dorsey and Twitter for the company’s efforts to combat violent extremism, and we congratulate it on the formation of the Trust & Safety Council, an important step forward to strike the right balance between fighting abuse and hate, and protecting free speech.

    • Twitter Inc. forms Trust & Safety Council to fight hate speech and harassment
      The aim of the council is to be able to come up with specific conditions that would allow the company to filter more than hundreds of millions of posts every day to spot any kind of misconduct, and judge whether any of the content protrudes beyond ethical boundaries of free speech.

    • Honda Tried To Get Jalopnik To Dox Commenter, Delete Posts, Meets The Streisand Effect Instead
      Criticism is part of life, of course, and I tend to believe that people show their true selves most transparently when they show how they deal with criticism. Unfortunately, we've covered entirely too many stories involving people and companies responding to online criticism poorly here at Techdirt. Typically, these unfortunate responses amount to trying to censor the criticism, but it can more dangerously involve the attempted silencing of journalism as well as threats of legal action against those making the critical comments.

      Too many times, websites and web services cave to this sort of censorship. But not everyone. Gawker Media, about whom I could fill these pages with criticism, appears to be pushing back on once such attempt levied against its site Jalopnik. Apparently, car-maker Honda took a negative view of some comments made at the site, purportedly by a Honda employee. For some reason, Honda decided that this distinction meant that it could not only silence the comments, but that it should receive help from the site in outing the commenter. The whole thing starts off, as seems so often the case, with some rather mild criticism in the form of a comment.

    • These charities want to send your old USB sticks to North Korea
      Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280 seek to counter North Korean censorship with USB sticks full of banned content

    • Fighting Censorship With 'Friends,' 'Desperate Housewives'
      Free speech advocates are fighting censorship in North Korea by illegally importing popular American TV shows. The goal: To undermine propaganda, give people a taste of freedom and eventually fuel the fall of the regime.

      Pyongyang's government insists that its dictator Kim Jong-un is a heavenly superhero, Americans are evil, South Korea started the region's civil war in the 1950s and that the rest of the world is not as free or prosperous as North Korea. In order to support these teachings, nearly all media from outside North Korea is banned and citizens are discouraged from questioning the government about problems such as famine or its use of slave labor.

    • [Far right site] San Francisco Federal Judge Who Rules For Government Censorship Should Be Impeached
      This is also the clown who ruled against investigative reporting in the case of The National Abortion Federation versus the Center for Medical Progress by issuing a preliminary injunction barring the anti-abortion group from releasing undercover videos taken at annual conferences of the National Abortion Federation.

    • China's 'black box' of mutinous secrets
      Also mentioned as plotters in the scheme were General Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission who was expelled from the party and was being investigated for corruption when he died of cancer in March 2015; and Su Rong, a longtime regional chief who was accused of corruption as party chief in Jiangxi province. Su was also blamed for showing "blatant disregard for party political rules" and having "poisoned the local political environment."

    • China Communist Party Elder Speaks Out Against Censorship
      Censorship has gone too far, contends Zhou Ruijin, 76, in an essay published in China in January and on Phoenix TV’s early this month. “To be frank, some leaders in the party’s propaganda department were managing the press like how they would manage a train schedule, directly intervening in the approach and procedure of news reporting,” he wrote.

      Zhou, a leading liberal writer in the 1990s, attacked today’s propaganda chiefs for taking down offending websites and deleting postings, calling these actions contrary to the concept that the Communist Party govern the country according to law. Moreover, he condemned “waves of campaigns, strict clampdowns, and public shaming,” the last a reference to the parading of people making Cultural Revolution-style confessions on television.

    • Criteria behind censorship
      Is there any logic or coherence in the way the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has tried to block objectionable online content? The short answer is ‘no’. Last month, the PTA had provided internet service providers with a list of over 400,000 domains that needed to be blocked for pornographic content. According to the PTA, it had been asked by the Supreme Court to “take remedial steps to quantify the nefarious phenomenon of obscenity and pornography that has an imminent role to corrupt and vitiate the youth of Pakistan”. It has now emerged that among the hundreds of thousands of websites on the list provided by the PTA, there are countless websites whose content cannot be considered obscene by any stretch of the imagination. Among these is the microblogging website ‘Tumblr’ as well as websites for photography, ecommerce, blogging and business.

    • Facebook Prude-Patrol Nixes Another Work Of Art By A Feminist, Entirely Proving Her Decades-Old Point
      We're still fresh on the heels of Facebook's overly broad and prudish decency rules resulting in the takedown of a bronze piece of artwork in the form of a mermaid statue that features bare metal breasts. Womens' breasts, as we all know, are shameful things to be hidden from view, lest they corrupt the minds of the young children that were so nourished by them in their youth. Sigh.

      Still, as dumb as that story was, and as indicative as it was of the problem of overly broad censorship guidelines employed in the name of decency, at least there were breasts. Metallic breasts, but breasts nonetheless. I have no idea how Facebook keeps this recent story from looking even more silly, in which it takes down a piece of artwork shared by Philidelphia Museum of Art that was constructed specifically to show how objectified women were in the 1960s.

    • Enough censorship by the majority
      I would further question the supposed centrality of free speech and intellectual discourse in combatting oppression and bigotry. Too often, “debate” is merely smokescreen. For example, there exists an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists and the international community that climate change is caused by humans. Despite this general agreement, the U.S. continues to “debate” (really, deny) this fact. This is not a debate in which all sides are seeking to move towards the truth. This is a debate constructed because massive corporate interests will cling onto the idea that climate change isn’t real for as long as possible. The debate is merely for show. On the individual level, the problem with bigots who use slurs (or commit other acts of oppression) isn’t that they haven’t heard a good argument about why using slurs is wrong. The problem is, in spite of hearing those arguments and the continuous requests of marginalized groups, they don’t care. And if people don’t care whether or not they’re a bigot, what’s the point in arguing with them?

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Donald Trump Praises Sean Hannity For Their Indistinguishable Views on Torture

    • CIA Director Freaks Out After Senator Wyden Points Out How The CIA Spied On The Senate
      If you're a CIA Director, one would assume that you know how to be cool under fire, right? Apparently that's not the case for current CIA Director John Brennan who seemed to completely freak out when Senator Ron Wyden started asking questions about the CIA's infamous decision to spy on the network and computers of Senate Intelligence Committee staffers who were compiling a report on the CIA's torture program. The details are a bit complex, but the short version is that the Intelligence Committee, which has oversight powers over the CIA, had been set up in a CIA building, with special access to CIA documents, and a special search tool. Apparently, at some point, that search tool returned a document which the CIA had never intended to share with the intelligence committee staffers. That document, called "the Panetta Review" was a draft document that then-CIA chief Leon Panetta had tasked people internal at the CIA to prepare on what the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers were likely to find as they went through the documents.

    • Drug Dogs Don't Even Have To Be Right Half The Time To Be Considered 'Reliable' By The Courts
      All in all, this motion to suppress evidence worked out for the plaintiff, but it does little to address concerns that drug dogs are basically blank permission slips for inquisitive cops.

      The defendant -- Emile Martin -- was in a vehicle driven by another person (simply referred to as "Montgomery" in the opinion). This vehicle crossed the centerline multiple times and was pulled over by Deputy Brandon Williams. The driver could not produce registration or proof of insurance, which led to the issuance of a citation… eventually. But the citation process was unnecessarily prolonged to provide the deputy with a chance to have a K9 unit brought in to sniff the car for drugs.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Google Decides To Kill Flash Ads, Goes 100% HTML5
      Google today told the world that its ad service is ditching the notorious Flash for HTML5 in upcoming months. The company will stop accepting ads based on this security nightmare, starting on June 30, 2016, and will complete drop them on January 2, 2017.

    • Congressmen Upton, Walden Latest To Insist Nobody Needs Faster Broadband
      A little over a year ago, the FCC voted to raise the minimum definition of broadband from 4 Mbps downstream, 1 Mbps upstream -- to 25 Mbps downstream, 3 Mbps upstream. The standard better reflects household usage in the gigabit connection and Netflix binge watching era. However, the broadband industry has been whining like a petulant child ever since, largely because the change highlights how a lack of competition and the resulting failure to upgrade networks means a huge swath of the country doesn't technically have broadband.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • President Obama Sends Two WIPO Copyright Treaties To US Senate For Ratification
      Today, United States President Barack Obama sent two signed multilateral copyright treaties negotiated at the World Intellectual Property Organization to the US Senate for ratification.

      The treaties are the 2012 Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances and the 2013 Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • “Happy Birthday” is public domain, former owner Warner/Chapell to pay $14M
        Music publisher Warner/Chappell will no longer be allowed to collect licensing royalties on those who sing "Happy Birthday" in public and will pay back $14 million to those who have paid for licensing in the past, according to court settlement papers filed late Monday night.

        The settlement is a result of a lawsuit originally filed in 2013 by filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who challenged the "Happy Birthday" copyright. "Happy Birthday" has the same melody as "Good Morning to You," a children's song dating to the 19th Century. But despite the song's murky early history, music publisher Warner/Chappell has stuck to its story that the song was copyrighted in 1935, and a royalty had to be paid for any public use of it—until now.

      • Warner Pays $14 Million For Illegitimate “Happy Birthday” Claims

        After raking in dozens of millions in licensing fees, Warner/Chappell has admitted that it doesn't own the rights to the song "Happy Birthday". The music company has agreed to set aside a $14 million settlement fund for people who paid to use Happy Birthday in public. In addition, the court has been asked to enter the song into the public domain.

      • MPAA May Like Donuts, but They Shouldn’t Be the (Copyright) Police
        The companies and organizations that run the Internet’s domain name system shouldn’t be in the business of policing the contents of websites, or enforcing laws that can impinge on free speech. The staff of ICANN, the organization that oversees that system, agrees. That’s why it’s not surprising that the Motion Picture Association of America, which has consistently sought power to edit the Internet, is now bypassing ICANN and making private deals with domain name registries.

      • Inside MPAA’s Piracy Deal With the Donuts Domain Registry

        The MPAA and the Donuts domain registry have announced a new partnership aimed at curtailing movie and TV show piracy. Donuts controls the .movie gTLD so the arrangement is symbolic for the MPAA, but how will it work in practice? TF has obtained details of the deal which could act as a blueprint for future voluntary agreements.

      • Kenyan Musicians Escalate Fight For Royalties
        The battle for music royalties in Kenya has spurred musicians and artists to demand transparency and accountability in the Music Copyright Society of Kenya (MCSK), the body that collects and distributes the fees.

      • Artist Sues Wu-Tang Clan Member, Martin Shkreli, Vice Magazine For Copyright Infringement

        In the continually developing saga that is the Wu-Tang Clan's unexpected entanglement with the embodiment of everything that's wrong with the pharmaceutical industry, it is now apparently time for the bogus lawsuits to begin.

        Artist Jason Koza, a Wu-Tang Clan fan, is suing Tarik Azzougarh, a rapper, producer and manager "associated" with the group, along with one of its members (RZA) and pharma supervillain Martin Shkreli, last seen pleading the smirk in front of a Congressional hearing.

      • Kim Dotcom’s Extradition Appeal Set For August
        The United States government will have to wait another six months for the appeal in the Kim Dotcom extradition case to be heard. A judge in the High Court in Auckland has just denied US requests for Dotcom's appeal to be fast-tracked, instead setting a date for this coming August.

      • Canada Is a Hotbed for Online Piracy, Rightsholders Claim
        The MPAA, RIAA and other entertainment industry groups are unhappy with how the Canadian Government is approaching the problem of online piracy. The country remains very appealing to pirate sites, they claim, while ISPs often fail to warn infringing subscribers effectively.

      • NHL Streaming Service Descends Into Blackout Hell; NHL Threatens Anyone Trying To Circumvent Blackouts
        While we have written quite a bit about major professional sports leagues marching towards expanded streaming options for viewers, and while each league is making progress in that direction, not all of the leagues are equal in how they're going about it. The NHL has been by far the least progressive in this arena, which is somewhat strange given how much more progressive it has been on other issues of modernity. On streaming, however, there seems to be some flip-flopping, with the league banning the use of services like Periscope by journalists, but then seeking to piggyback on baseball's fantastic MLB Advanced Media product to get better streaming to its viewers. The entire point of increased streaming options is to get the product out to as many people as possible, grow the fanbase, and ultimately rake in more money via increased viewership.

Recent Techrights' Posts

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Reprinted with permission from
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Ean Schuessler & Debian SPI OSI trademark disputes
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Windows in Sudan: From 99.15% to 2.12%
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[Meme] The 'Cancel Culture' and Its 'Hit List'
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Ean Schuessler, Branden Robinson & Debian SPI accounting crisis
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[Video] Online Brigade Demands That the Person Who Started GNU/Linux is Denied Public Speaking (and Why FSF Cannot Mention His Speeches)
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Yo dawg!
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