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Links 7/4/2016: Ubuntu Touch OTA-10, MariaDB Improvements

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Science

    • Exactly How Much Does It Cost in Electricity To Keep Our Mobile Addiction Going
      Found a really cool study by ZD Net that has occasionally no doubt made all of us ponder. I've had a thought that the total electricity consumed by a mobile phone from its recharging is worth less than one dollar (or one Euro actually) per year but that was an ancient number from very hazy sources. Now we have a fresh study by ZD Net who did it on a phablet-screen iPhone 6 Plus. They measured that it consumes 19.2 wh (watt hours) per night of recharging. In a year it amounted to 7 kwh (kilowatt hours). And by current US electricity costs that amounts to 84 US cents ie $0.84 to keep the iPhone on for a year in electrical costs.

  • Hardware

    • NVIDIA DGX-1: World’s First Supercomputer For Deep Learning And AI
      NVIDIA, the leading maker of GPUs, has announced DGX-1 — the world’s first dedicated supercomputer for deep learning AI applications. This beast delivers 170 teraflops performance, thanks to 8 Tesla P100 deep learning GPUs and high-end Intel Xeon processor.

    • Inside Nvidia's Pascal-powered Tesla P100: What's the big deal?
      So there it is: the long-awaited Nvidia Pascal architecture GPU. It's the GP100, and it will debut in the Tesla P100, which is aimed at high-performance computing (think supercomputers simulating the weather and nuke fuel) and deep-learning artificial intelligence systems.

      The P100, revealed today at Nvidia's GPU Tech Conference in San Jose, California, has 15 billion transistors (150 billion if you include the 16GB of memory) and is built from 16nm FinFETs. If you want to get your hands on the hardware, you can either buy a $129,000 DGX-1 box, which will gobble 3200W but deliver up to 170TFLOPS of performance when it ships in June; wait until one of the big cloud providers offers the gear as an online service later this year; or buy a Pascal-equipped server from the likes of IBM, Cray, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or Dell in early 2017. The cloud goliaths are already gobbling up as many of the number-crunching chips as they can.

  • Security

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Assad-Oriented Shia Militia May Have U.S. M-1 Abrams Tank
      Perhaps the most fundamental flaw in the flailing U.S. anti-ISIS strategy is the belief that any group willing to fight ISIS must support at least some U.S. goals, and that any group not ISIS is better in the long run than ISIS.

    • All Those Evil Violent Video Games Apparently Failed At Turning Kids Into Deviant Murder-Terrorists
      We all know that society is going straight down a hellish toilet bowl. We know this mostly because everyone says so. Violence is rampant, sex is carried out with all the care of discussing the weather, and generally we're squashing morality like it was a bug walking across the concrete. And we all know who the real culprits of all this immorality are: teenagers.


      Huh. Turns out we were the little shits and today's kids are better on lots of moral questions. It's almost like societal progress produces tangible results. But the really interesting part is in the wider table that compares all kinds of questions and results for today's youth with the youth of yesteryear.

    • The Wacko Right Nexus
      The Quilliam Foundation is a group led by people who claim to be former Islamic jihadists who have now reformed. It is the go-to organisation for the BBC and Murdoch’s Sky News whenever Islamic matters, and particularly terrorism, are aired on the media. It is presented, quite falsely, as a neutral and technocratic organisation.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Edward Snowden lambasts Cameron for sudden privacy u-turn

    • Snowden mocks British PM for terming Panama Papers leak 'private matter'
      Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency whistleblower, has expressed surprise at British prime minister’s statement that his father’s implication in the list of high-profile tax avoiders was “a private matter”.

      According to Panama Papers, the late Ian Cameron’s Blairmore Holdings Inc company, set up in the 1980s, managed tens of millions of pounds for the wealthy but has never paid tax on UK profits.

    • Private matter? That’s rich! Edward Snowden deals Cameron a Twitter takedown
      David Cameron has been called out for hypocrisy by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden after the PM, who has presided over a raft of new surveillance powers, claimed his late-father’s tax affairs are “a private matter.”

      In response, Snowden, who exposed the extent of GCHQ and NSA mass surveillance, tweeted: “Oh, now he’s interested in privacy.”

      Leaks suggest Ian Cameron did not pay British taxes on his estate for 30 years.

    • Panama Papers: Edward Snowden ridicules David Cameron over privacy
      Edward Snowden has drawn attention to David Cameron’s apparently new interest in privacy, in the wake of questions about his family’s tax affairs.

      The Prime Minister avoided questions about his tax situation, following mentions of his father Ian Cameron in the “Panama papers”. Mr Cameron has looked to argue that his tax affairs are not public and so shouldn’t be discussed.

    • Why the Panama Papers Matter
      In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers. His position as a United States military analyst gave him access to information that he felt should not be hidden from the public. The papers he copied and distributed to the New York Times contained evidence showing that what the government was telling the public it was doing in Vietnam was not true. They sent more troops than they said they were sending. They told the public that the war was winding down when in fact they were broadening their reach in Vietnam. The Pentagon Papers had proof that more than one administration during the Vietnam War put their desire for reelection ahead of ending the war.

    • Recent Global Leaks, From Snowden To The Panama Papers
      Founded in 2006 and launched a year later by Australian ex-hacker Julian Assange, WikiLeaks begins releasing secrets such as operating procedures at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, and the contents of US politician Sarah Palin's personal e-mails.

      In April 2010, the video of a US helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed two Reuters staff and others puts WikiLeaks back in the headlines.

      It follows up in the summer with two massive releases of tens of thousands of internal US military documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, detailing cases of abuse, torture and civilian deaths.

    • Panama Papers leaks show change doesn't happen by itself, says Edward Snowden
      A trove of leaked data about offshore tax havens in Panama highlights more than ever the vital role of the whistleblower in a free society, says one of the tech era's most prominent figures to expose state secrets, Edward Snowden.

      The former U.S. intelligence contractor said Tuesday that the so-called Panama Papers, which were given to journalists by an anonymous source, demonstrate that "change doesn't happen by itself."

      "The media cannot operate in a vacuum and ... the participation of the public is absolutely necessary to achieving change," the ex-National Security Agency analyst said during a video conference from Moscow.

      Snowden was speaking from exile on a panel organized by Simon Fraser University examining the opportunities and dangers of online data gathering.

    • Information Wants to Be Free: Famous Leaks Through the Ages
      At 2,600 gigabytes, the Panama Papers were the biggest data leak in history — a massive information dump that exposed the shady dealings of billionaires, celebrities , sports stars and world leaders.

      In this case, it was somebody with access to the records of the Panama City-based Mossack Fonseca law firm who steered some the 11.5 million records to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which then shared them with the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

    • Snowden says Panama Papers show whistleblowers ‘vital’ to society
      Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor responsible for the release of thousands of classified documents detailing the American government’s use of mass surveillance, says the Panama Papers show the role of the whistleblower in a free society has become “vital.”

      Mr. Snowden, who is living in Russia under political asylum, made the comments via video link during a sold-out event hosted by Simon Fraser University on Tuesday night.

      Mr. Snowden said the Panama Papers reveal “the most privileged and the most powerful members of society are operating by a different set of rules.”

    • Highlights from Edward Snowden's Vancouver address
      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden brought a rousing call to arms to Vancouver Tuesday night, when he spoke live via weblink to a captivated audience at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

      “Technology has been used as a sword against people but it can also be used as a shield,” he told the sold-out theatre.
    • Edward Snowden says Panama Papers show whistleblower role is 'vital'
      The release of the Panama Papers shows that the role of whistleblowers is more important than ever, Edward Snowden told a sold out crowd in Vancouver Tuesday night.

      The NSA whistleblower appeared via live weblink at the SFU-hosted event, which took place at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

      Although the event was scheduled months ago, Snowden's speech in Vancouver was timely, coming on the heels of the release of the Panama Papers that has embarrassed politicians and businessmen, exposed global corruption and tax evasion, and led to the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland.

    • The Panama Papers: leaktivism's coming of age
      The theory that leaking information is an effective form of social protest is being put to the test like never before. It could give rise to capitalism’s greatest crisis yet

    • Leaks that shook the world
      The Panama Papers are the latest in a long line of leaks that have had political repercussions across the globe.

      Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked what became known as the Pentagon Papers in 1971. They detailed how war in Vietnam had been escalated by the US from 1945 to 1967.

      The Watergate scandal was one of the biggest political controversies of the 20th century, prompting President Richard Nixon to resign in 1974. A source known as "Deep Throat" helped bring the burglary of the Democratic National Committee to light, which the Nixon administration tried to cover up.

      In 2010, whistle-blowing website Wikileaks released US State Department cables that the American government considers critical for its national security.

    • Snowden tells Vancouver audience Panama Papers leaker hasn’t contacted him
      Like most tech wizards, Edward Snowden says he’s more of a night person.

      But the famed U.S. whistleblower was pushing that stereotype to its outer limits Tuesday (April 5) when he addressed a Vancouver audience via live-stream from Russia, where it was about 5:20 a.m. local time.

    • Edward Snowden is touring Australia (sort of)
      Edward Snowden, the most controversial whistle-blower not to don an umpires uniform, is set to embark on a speaking tour of Australia. He will, however, not be present in the flesh.

    • NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to Vancouver crowd via videolink

    • Edward Snowden appearing via video link at Queen Elizabeth Theatre tonight

    • Panama Papers: Could Pirate Party Co-Founder Birgitta Jónsdóttir Become Iceland's Next PM?
      Iceland’s Pirate Party has seen a surge of support following the publication of the Panama Papers, which led to the resignation of the country’s prime minister.

      Leaked documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed that Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson owned an offshore company with his wife, which he failed to declare when he entered Parliament. He is accused of concealing millions of dollars’ worth of family assets. We speak to the group’s co-founder, former WikiLeaks volunteer Birgitta Jónsdóttir, who is now a member of the Icelandic Parliament.

    • Iceland government appoints new PM, to call early elections
      Iceland's government named a new prime minister and called for early elections in the autumn on Wednesday, a day after Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson quit to become the first global politician brought down by the "Panama Papers" leaks.

      It was unclear whether the naming of Fisheries Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson to head the government or the call for early elections would satisfy the thousands of Icelanders who in street protests this week demanded the government resign immediately for early elections.

      Gunnlaugsson quit as prime minister on Tuesday after leaked documents from a Panamanian law firm showed his wife owned an offshore company that held millions of dollars in debt from failed Icelandic banks.

    • A rerun of 2009? No, we Icelanders are much angrier this time
      The farce currently playing out in Icelandic politics hit new heights yesterday.

      Tuesday began well. The leaders of the two coalition parties met for the first time after the notorious broadcast in which the Icelandic people watched their prime minister’s hypocrisy exposed.

      Bjarni Benediktsson, the leader of the Independence party – the coalition partner of the ruling Progressive party – had strongly intimated before the meeting that his party would pull out of the coalition agreement, which would lead to new elections. The nation held its collective breath.

      Shortly after that meeting ended the prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, wrote a cryptic status on his Facebook page that appeared to be a veiled threat to his coalition partner. Paraphrased, it went something like this: “If you do not continue to support me in the good works I have performed for this nation I will make the president dissolve the parliament nyah nyah.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

  • Finance

    • Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption
      They also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran.

    • Trump reveals plan to finance Mexico border wall with threat to cut off funds
      Republican says the key to wall’s financing is forcing Mexico to make a one-time payment of $5-10bn or halt money transfers from immigrants to family at home

    • Here’s the Price Countries Pay for Tax Evasion Exposed in Panama Papers
      READING THE many stories based on the giant leak of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — notorious for its prolific creation of shell companies to hide assets of wealthy malefactors — you might well ask: How much tax revenue do the world’s governments lose thanks to this kind of financial engineering?

    • ‘Panama Papers’ Law Firm Helped CIA Operatives, Gun-Runners Set Up Shell Companies
      After journalists started naming names in the massive document dump known as the Panama Papers, which details the shadow networks of shell companies and tax havens used by the super-rich, many wondered why Americans went unmentioned in the international scandal. Now, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has implicated the CIA as one of the players of this secret — if technically legal — game of hiding money from tax collectors.

    • Panama Papers vs NSA: How big is the latest leak?
      The Panama Papers created a global stir, not only for detailing how rich and powerful people hide their wealth, but for the sheer size of the data involved.

      But is it, as Edward Snowden claims, bigger than his leaked NSA data? And how does it compare to the fallout from U.S. diplomatic information released by Chelsea Manning via WikiLeaks?

    • Panama Papers Reveal How the Well-Connected Wage Economic War
      It has been 45 years since Daniel Ellsberg’s leak of the Pentagon Papers revealed unknown details of how the U.S. was waging war in Vietnam. This week, the release of what are known as the Panama Papers is showcasing how some of the world’s wealthiest and most corrupt leaders in business and government are, in their way, declaring an economic war on the world’s citizens.

    • The Panama Papers: public interest disclosure v the right to private legal advice

    • FT post on the Panama Papers: public interest disclosure v the right to private legal advice

    • David Cameron's father sought legal advice on best tax havens
      David Cameron’s father took detailed legal advice about the pros and cons of different tax havens before the fund he had helped set up was transferred to Ireland, the Guardian can reveal.

      A leading international law firm wrote an analysis of the Cayman Islands and Bermuda as possible places to host Blairmore Holdings Inc, as it considered whether to “migrate” the investment fund from Panama.

      Blairmore was moved in June 2012 to Ireland – another tax haven with many of the advantages of offshore jurisdictions.

    • Cameron stepped in to shield offshore trusts from EU tax crackdown in 2013
      David Cameron intervened personally to prevent offshore trusts from being dragged into an EU-wide crackdown on tax avoidance, it has emerged.

      In a 2013 letter to the then president of the European council, Herman Van Rompuy, the prime minister said that trusts should not automatically be subject to the same transparency requirements as companies.

    • Where does David Cameron’s money come from?
      Downing Street has had a torrid week fending off questions about David Cameron’s finances in the wake of the Panama Papers leak. At first, No10 said it was a private affair – a knockback that provoked even further scrutiny of his family’s wealth and how it was earned. The prime minister now says neither he nor his family will benefit from any offshore funds now or in the future. But what of the past? Here, the Guardian sets out how the Camerons made a fortune from inherited wealth and family companies.

    • David Cameron 'argued to water down transparency rules over trusts'
      Downing Street has defended a move by David Cameron to water down the effect of EU transparency rules on trusts despite warnings it could create a loophole for tax dodgers.

      The Prime Minister successfully argued in 2013 for trusts to be treated differently to companies in anti-money laundering rules, The Financial Times revealed.

      It comes after Mr Cameron came under intense pressure over his family's tax arrangements following the Panama Papers data leak, which reportedly included details about his late father Ian's tax affairs.

    • David Cameron challenged on benefits from father’s tax haven money #PanamaPapers
      DOWNING STREET are refusing to provide transparency surrounding David Cameron’s financial interests amid the widening scandal over the global tax haven industry.

    • Panama Papers: David Cameron faces questions over father's off-shore fund in Jersey
      David Cameron is facing further questions over his links to offshore investment funds, after it emerged that his late father was involved in a second company based in a tax haven.

    • David Cameron personally intervened to prevent tax crackdown on offshore trusts
      David Cameron personally intervened to prevent EU transparency rules affecting offshore tax trusts despite warnings it could create a loophole for tax dodgers, it has emerged.

      The Prime Minister sent a letter that successfully argued for trusts to be treated differently to companies in anti-money laundering rules.

    • No 10 defends timing of pro-EU leaflets announcement amid pressure on PM
      Vote Leave campaigners accuse Downing Street of trying to deflect attention from Panama Papers revelations
    • David Cameron avoids question on benefiting from father’s tax affairs
      David Cameron has ducked a question about whether his family stands to benefit from offshore assets linked to his late father, after his tax affairs came under scrutiny following the Panama Papers data leak.

      The prime minister gave a carefully worded reply saying he had no offshore trusts, funds or shares, after giving a speech about the EU in Birmingham.

      Dowing Street later revealed that his wife, Samantha, benefits from shares related to her father’s land, but insisted that neither she nor the Camerons’ children currently benefit from Blairmore, an offshore investment fund set up by the prime minister’s late father.

      Cameron’s first direct intervention into the controversy came in response to a question posed by Sky News.
    • Immigrants Shouldn’t Be Locked Up for Being Poor
      In the federal criminal bail system, judges are required to consider someone’s financial ability to pay a bond and determine if alternative conditions of supervision — check-ins, travel restrictions — are enough to get the person to show up for court.
    • Microsoft, Amazon, others excel at offshore tax dance [Ed: IRS is after Microsoft]
      The invisible web of connections by which the rich get a sweeter deal is starting to be exposed. How America reacts is huge — especially for one of the top users of offshore tax havens, Microsoft.
    • Nokia to cut thousands of jobs following Alcatel deal [Ed: Microsoft killed Nokia]
      Telecom network equipment maker Nokia NOKIA.HE is planning to cut thousands of jobs worldwide, including 1,400 in Germany and 1,300 in its native Finland, as part of a cost-cutting program following its acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent.

      Finland's biggest company has cut thousands of Finnish jobs over the past decade as its once-dominant phone business was eclipsed by the rise of smartphone rivals. The phone business was eventually sold to Microsoft MSFT.O, which has continued cutting jobs in the recession-hit country.

    • U.S. readies bank rule on shell companies amid 'Panama Papers' fury
      The U.S. Treasury Department intends to soon issue a long-delayed rule forcing banks to seek the identities of people behind shell-company account holders, after the "Panama Papers" leak provoked a global uproar over the hiding of wealth via offshore banking devices.
    • U.S. readies bank rule on shell companies amid 'Panama Papers' fury
      F. Scott Fitzgerald apparently never told his Parisian drinking buddy Ernest Hemingway, “Ernie, the rich are different from us,” only to be rebuffed by the legendary comeback, “Yes, they have more money.” Like so many famous anecdotes, that one was cooked up years after the fact (probably by Fitzgerald’s posthumous editor, the literary critic Edmund Wilson). One reason that apocryphal exchange possesses such enduring cultural resonance is that both observations are true, and what sounds like a contradiction is not a contradiction after all.


      Those are explosive charges, and one should of course be cautious in characterizing a powerful law firm that has tried to deny or deflect most of these allegations in a vigorous if laborious rebuttal, published in full on the Guardian’s website. In a long-winded letter signed by Carlos Sousa, the firm’s public-relations director, Mossack Fonseca insists it “does not foster or promote illegal acts,” respectfully disagrees with the conclusion that it sought to help anyone avoid paying taxes or launder dirty money, and claims to “have operated beyond reproach in [its] home country and in other jurisdictions” for 40 years. Furthermore, if any of its clients misused its services or did anything illegal, the firm professes itself deeply shocked and distressed (I am paraphrasing, but not by much). In short, Mossack says it did nothing wrong or at least didn’t mean to, and has recently added 26 new hires to its “compliance department” to ensure it continues to do nothing wrong in the future.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Sanders Wins Wisconsin Primary, Extending Streak
      Meanwhile, Sanders was whipping up crowds across Wisconsin. On Sunday, he was back in Madison, at the University of Wisconsin's basketball arena. He couldn't fill the entire arena this time around, but he still managed to draw 4,400 people—even though he'd just been in town a week prior. He brought in a host of national talent to whip up the crowd: Actors Shailene Woodley and Rosario Dawson spoke, while indie-rock band Best Coast played a short set. But perhaps more telling was a band of local singers, who regularly protest Gov. Scott Walker through song in the state capital and who performed pro-union songs before the national acts on Sunday.

    • Hedge Funds are Part of a Tricky Money Maneuver to Put Hillary in the White House
      But two hedge fund billionaires backing a Republican candidate pales in comparison to the tens of millions of dollars flooding into Hillary Clinton’s campaign from other hedge fund billionaires – including money flowing into a joint fundraising committee called the “Hillary Victory Fund” that is sluicing money to both Hillary’s main candidate committee, Hillary for America, as well as into the Democratic National Committee and 33 separate state Democratic committees, which has some observers crying foul.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Chinese censors spring into action to erase mentions of Panama Papers from the web
      The leaked 11.5 million files, spanning 2.6 TB of data, include references to the relatives of at least eight current or former Chinese officials, says the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Chinese censors have now gone into overdrive, working overtime to eliminate all mentions of this from Chinese websites.

    • LATEST VIDEO - York webcast video censorship row resolved - deleted scenes will be restored

      The deleted scenes from a City of York council webcast will be put back into a recorded version that sits on the council website. It follows a huge row where a group of councillors have accused council officers of censorship.

      The leader of the council, Chris Steward, has been informing everyone tonight that the webcast should be reinstated in full tomorrow.

    • China ramps up Panama Papers censorship after leaders' relatives named
      Chinese censors have stepped up their censorship of websites, ordering all content related to the Panama Papers to be scrubbed as new revelations emerged of how relatives of some of the country’s top leaders had used secretive offshore companies to store their wealth.

    • Egypt arrested people for their Facebook comments. Now it’s trying to block Facebook itself [“Blocking all of Facebook is not all bad, selective blocking though is censorship.” -iophk]
      In recent months, the Egyptian government has arrested or jailed several people for posting comments on Facebook that it considered inflammatory. Now, it seems, the government and some lawmakers are going after Facebook itself.

      Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Al has called for new legislation to “control the excesses” of Facebook. Another lawmaker, Gamal Abdel Nasser, wrote in a statement this week that “people who use Facebook to write highly dangerous things to our national security should be arrested.”

    • Steam Censors Pirate Bay Links in Chat Client

      Steam users who want to share a link to The Pirate Bay from the built-in chat client will be disappointed, as mentions of the popular torrent site are being censored. Links to various torrent and file-sharing sites are actively stripped from discussions, presumably because Valve doesn't appreciate some of the content that's shared through the site.

    • US trade secrets bill passed unanimously in Senate [Ed: Shock horror! Rich politicians pass laws that protest rich people]

    • Apple granted patent on real-time censorship technology
      According to Business Insider, Apple has been granted a patent on a new technology that would allow for audio streams to be audited and edited for explicit content in real-time, as outlined in a recently published patent application.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Panama Papers Endanger Anonymity of ‘Pirate’ Sites
      Described as one of the largest leaks in history, the Panama Papers reveal where some of the wealthiest people in the world hide their fortunes. However, offshore companies are also widely used for anonymity, as the listing of two Megaupload defendants reveals. This could spell trouble for quite a few file-sharing sites and services that hide behind offshore companies.
    • Another Privacy Canary in the Coal Mines?
      That speculation seems appropriate given how we learned of the opinion in the first place. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has repeatedly warned that the OLC’s opinion on common commercial service agreements is critical to understanding the ongoing cybersecurity debate and contains a legal interpretation that is “inconsistent with the public’s understanding of the law.” Sen. Wyden has a history of alerting the public to the government’s reliance on secret law. The last time the senator warned that the executive branch’s secret legal interpretation would shock the public, it turned out he was referring to the NSA’s unlawful bulk collection of call records under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. The facts underlying his warnings roared into public consciousness with the first Snowden disclosure publicized in June 2013.

    • Law Enforcement Raids Another Tor Exit Node Because It Still Believes An IP Address Is A Person
      An IP address is not a person, even less so if said IP address traces back to a Tor exit relay. But that's not going to stop the "authorities" from subjecting people with no knowledge at all of alleged criminal activity from being subjected to raids and searches.

      It happened in Austria. Local police seized a bunch of computer equipment from a residence hosting a Tor exit node. ICE -- boldly moving forward with nothing more than an IP address -- seized six hard drives from Nolan King, who was also running a Tor exit relay.

      Those more familiar with Tor suggested ICE's "upon information and belief" affidavit statements should probably include at least a little "information" and recommended law enforcement check publicly-available lists of Tor exit nodes before conducting raids based on IP addresses. ICE, however, vowed to keep making this same mistake, no matter what information was brought to its attention.
    • Destroying Reputations And Hacking Elections For Fun And Profit
      Although rather forgotten now, one of the most troubling Snowden revelations appeared in 2014, and concerned GCHQ's "dirty tricks" group known as JTRIG -- the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group. Put simply, its job is to "manipulate, deceive and destroy" reputations. Of course, it would be naïve to think that GCHQ is alone in using these techniques. We can safely assume all the major spy agencies engage in similar activities, but what about other players? To what extent might ambitious politicians, for example, be using these dirty tricks to slime their opponents -- and to win elections unfairly?

      If a long and fascinating feature in Bloomberg is to be believed, the outcome of presidential elections in Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Venezuela were all influenced and possibly even determined by the work of one man, a certain Andrés Sepúlveda, using similar methods to those employed by JTRIG. It's a great story, and well-worth reading in full. What follows are some of the details that are likely to be of particular interest to Techdirt readers.

    • OnionScan: Tool To Check If Your Dark Web Site Really Is Anonymous
      Sarah Jamie Lewis is an independent security researcher who has devised a tool called OnionScan to locate the loopholes in dark web sites. This will allow system admins to find flaws in their websites and minimize the chance of the leakage of their server’s real IP address.
    • Highlights from Edward Snowden's Vancouver address
      NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden brought a rousing call to arms to Vancouver Tuesday night, when he spoke live via weblink to a captivated audience at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

      “Technology has been used as a sword against people but it can also be used as a shield,” he told the sold-out theatre.

      “To what do we owe a greater loyalty – to the law or to justice?”

      Addressing everything from the recently leaked Panama Papers to the best way to keep your personal data private, Snowden was certainly hard-hitting and at times felt radical.

      But his sense of humour and candour was also clear from the start, when host CBC senior correspondent Laura Lynch thanked him for getting up early at around 5 a.m. Moscow time.

    • Snowden: Surveillance is about “social control,” not terrorism
      “To whom do you owe a bigger loyalty: to the law, or to justice?”

      Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who gained international fame after leaking classified documents to journalists at The Guardian, reflected on his choice to risk his safety and his life to expose the actions of the American government, which included monitoring private phone calls and emails. “Eventually, you have to make an individual decision, a moral decision, a decision of conscience,” he said.

      As the last entry in the Spring 2016 President’s Dream Colloquium on Big Data, Snowden spoke to a crowd of roughly 3,000 people at a packed Queen Elizabeth Theatre, with even more watching via live webstream. Charged with three felonies and unable to return to his home in the United States, Snowden is currently living in Russia on a three-year temporary asylum.
    • NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden speaks to Vancouver crowd via videolink
      NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden is speaking about the Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of files showing how the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax havens, via video link in Vancouver. Snowden is giving a keynote speech called “Big Data, Security and Human Rights” at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver, hosted by Simon Fraser University.

    • UK Police Flagging Uncharged Arrestees As Possible National Security Threats To Keep Their Biometric Data From Being Deleted
      Rules are rules, except when they aren't. UK law enforcement's biometric database has strict rules governing the retention of data not linked to suspects facing charges. The system automatically deletes the data when a file is flagged as closed, which happens automatically when a person is released without bail. At this point, "problems" develop, as The Register's Alexander J. Martin explains.

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • Using The All Writs Act To Route Around The Fifth Amendment
      USA Today's Brad Heath has dug up another use for the FBI's now-infamous All Writs Act orders: skirting the Fifth Amendment. In a 2015 case currently headed to the Appeals Court, the government is attempting to use All Writs to force a defendant to unlock his devices.

      The order finding Francis Rawls guilty of contempt contains a footnote pointing to the government's use of an All Writs order to force Rawls to unlock his devices -- and, one would think -- allow the government to dodge a Fifth Amendment rights violation.

    • Former CIA/NSA Chief Hayden Fantasized About Assassinating Edward Snowden
      The spy chief under the George W. Bush administration says that assassinating the whistleblower was something he considered during his ‘darker moments.’

    • Using The All Writs Act To Route Around The Fifth Amendment
      USA Today's Brad Heath has dug up another use for the FBI's now-infamous All Writs Act orders: skirting the Fifth Amendment. In a 2015 case currently headed to the Appeals Court, the government is attempting to use All Writs to force a defendant to unlock his devices.

    • ‘There’s Never Been a Drug Law That Wasn’t Tied to Race’

    • John Yoo’s Two Justifications for Stellar Wind
      Because I’m a hopeless geek, I want to compare the what we can discern of the November 2, 2001 memo John Yoo wrote to authorized Stellar Wind with the letter he showed FISA Presiding Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly on May 17, 2002. The former is almost entirely redacted. But as I’ll show, the two appear to be substantially the same except for small variations within paragraphs (which possibly may reflect no more than citations). The biggest difference is that Yoo’s memo appears to have two pages of content not present in the letter to Kollar-Kotelly.

      What follows is a comparison of every unredacted passage in the Yoo memo, every one of which appear in exactly the same form in the letter he wrote to Kollar-Kotelly.

      The first unredacted line in Yoo’s memo — distinguishing between “electronic surveillance” covered by FISA and “warrantless searches” the President can authorize — appears in this paragraph in the letter.

    • Citizens On Terrorist Watchlist - Including A 4-Year-Old Boy - Sue Government For Violating Their Rights
      A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Virginia challenging the government's terrorist watchlist. Eighteen plaintiffs -- including a 4-year-old boy who was placed on the watchlist at the age of 7 months -- claim their placement on the watchlist is discriminatory and has deprived them of their rights.

      The government's super-secret watchlist for suspected terrorists is, for the most part, the end result of the collective hunches of hundreds of intelligence and law enforcement employees. Despite the lack of anything approaching evidence, people are shrugged onto the watchlist at an alarming rate. The lawsuit points out that only 16 people were on the government's "No Fly" list in 2001. By 2013, the list had 47,000 names on it.

    • US among world leaders in death penalty, surpassed only by Saudi, Iran & Pakistan – Amnesty
      With 28 killings in 2015, the US is the only country in the Americas and among OSCE members to be on the list of top executioners published by Amnesty International, coming right after Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan.

      At least 1,634 people were put to death in 25 countries in 2015, Amnesty International said. Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan account for nearly 90 percent of those.

      The US, it appears, had more executions than Iraq last year – 28 in six states: Texas (13), Missouri (6), Georgia (5), Florida (2), Oklahoma (1) and Virginia (1).

    • Death rows: the toll of the ultimate punishment
      THERE was an alarming increase in the use of capital punishment across the world last year. At least 1,634 people were put to death by shooting, beheading, lethal injection or hanging according to figures from the human-rights organisation Amnesty International. This is a 50% increase on 2014 and is the highest number for 25 years, mainly due to a surge in three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, in which 90% of all executions took place. Actual figures are likely to be much greater. China is believed to execute thousands of people, but the numbers are kept a state secret.

    • U.S. executions down in 2015, but nation remains in global top five
      Capital punishment continued its steady decline in the United States last year, with death sentences and executions dropping to levels unseen for decades. But despite this shift, the country remains among the world's leaders in the death penalty, putting more inmates to death in 2015 than most other nations.

    • Court’s Decision on Recording Police Erodes First Amendment Rights and Transparency While Inviting Violence
      A federal district court in Pennsylvania recently issued a terrible joint decision in Fields v. City of Philadelphia and Geraci v. City of Philadelphia, holding for the first time that "observing and recording" police activities is not protected by the First Amendment unless an observer visibly challenges police conduct in that moment. The right to record police activities, under both the First and Fourth Amendments, is an increasingly vital digital rights issue. If allowed to stand, Fields would not only hamstring efforts to improve police accountability, but—given disturbing patterns across the U.S.—could also lead to unnecessary violence.

      Criticism of the Fields decision emerged quickly, but focused mostly on its artificial distinction between what counts as protected "expression" under the First Amendment and what does not. Unfortunately, that fallacy is merely one among several that pervade the decision.

    • Court Says Prosecutor's Lies Means Man Can Have His Money Back, But Not His Life
      Not only did the government not disclose this close working arrangement between prosecutors and Dvorin's co-defendant, but it allowed him to perjure himself by affirming under oath that no such agreement was in place.

      The government did the right thing… as far as that went. It admitted to the Brady and Napue violations and allowed the sentence to be vacated. But that didn't take Dvorin off the hook. All it did was set him up for a second trial.

      It was at this point that the district court decided to get to the bottom of the prosecutorial misconduct.


      In the end, everything Sauter did and everything the government attempted to vindictively pile on was left mostly intact. Dvorin may have gotten his money back, but he's still in prison. Sauter and the other government prosecutors are still free to abuse the system to the extent the courts will let them get away with it. This district has shown it's willing to permit a number of violations before it will even consider tossing convictions. Those are pretty good odds, if you're the sort of prosecutor who thinks breaking the rules is perfectly acceptable when pursuing "justice."
    • Man says undercover cops beat, choked him unconscious
      A 23-year-old man says he was tackled and choked unconscious by two undercover officers, and that another officer ordered bystanders to delete video of the incident.

      James King claimed he thought he was being mugged when a plainclothes Grand Rapids Police detective and FBI special agent asked for his identification and held him against an unmarked SUV on July 18, 2014. He said didn't know the men were law enforcement.

    • Video shows SAISD officer slamming middle school girl to the ground
      A police officer for the San Antonio Independent School District was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after cellphone video emerged of the officer slamming a 12-year-old female student to the ground.

      The incident happened March 29 at Rhodes Middle School.

      In the 33-second video, posted online by, Officer Joshua Kehm is seen slamming sixth-grader Janissa Valdez to the ground.
    • Italian Official Warns Egypt Over Inquiry Into Student’s Death
      The foreign minister of Italy said Tuesday that his government would take “immediate and proportional” measures against Egypt if it failed to help uncover the truth behind the death of an Italian graduate student in Cairo two months ago.

      “We will stop only when we will find the truth, the real one,” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni told Parliament, adding that he would not accept any “fabrication.”

      The threat by Mr. Gentiloni came the day before a team of Egyptian investigators was scheduled to land in Rome for meetings on the case of the student, Giulio Regeni, 28, a doctoral candidate, whose brutalized body was discovered on a roadside in February in Cairo.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality/TV/Radio

    • ISPs Now Charging Broadband Users A Steep Premium If They Want To Avoid Usage Caps
      Thanks to the lack of broadband competition, the ISP push to impose unnecessary and arbitrary usage caps shows no sign of slowing down. Comcast continues to expand its "trial" of usage caps and overage fees, while AT&T has followed suit. And both companies have now started adding a new wrinkle to the mix, charging consumers $30 to $35 more per month if they want to avoid usage caps entirely. That's right, despite broadband getting cheaper than ever to provide, ISPs are now charging you a massive monthly premium if you want the same unlimited broadband service you enjoyed yesterday.

    • Canadian Government Fails To Force Cheaper TV Options, Blames Consumers For Not Trying Harder
      Last month we noted how Canadian regulator the CRTC tried to do something about the high cost of TV service by forcing Canadian cable operators to provide cheaper, more flexible TV bundles. Under the new CRTC rules, companies had to provide a $25 so-called "skinny bundle" of discounted TV channels starting March 1, and the option to buy channels a la carte starting December 1.

    • Radio Directive - Open letter to the French Ministry of Budget and to the French Telecom Regulator
      The Directive on the harmonisation of the laws of Member States relating to the making available on the market of radio equipment (or Radio Directive) was adopted in April 2014, with the aim to improve the management of the radio spectrum. The Directive must now be transposed and implemented in Member States before 12 June 2016. Although its goals are laudable, it establishes standards for software installed on radio equipment, thus becoming an unprecedented threat to the use of free software. It is dangerous for innovation and for users' rights, and results in considerable legal insecurity for associations around the country that develop wireless citizen Internet networks. The French government is currently working on transposing this Directive, and must urgently tackle the situation and guarantee the right to install free software on radio equipment.

    • Would you like this hypothetical telecom regulator to head up ICANN?
      Let’s imagine a hypothetical telecom regulator getting picked as a new head of ICANN, and the consequences it might have. ICANN is the organization regulating much of the Internet’s crucial infrastructure, and there has been a continuous power struggle between the Internet’s values of transparency and openness against the dinosaur telecom values of walled gardens, monopolization, and surveillance.

  • DRM

    • Sony Finally Releases PS4 Remote Play For PC App That Isn't As Good As A Modder's App Is
      Late last year, we discussed how an application modder named Twisted had managed to push Sony, the megalith corporation, into producing a remote play PC application for its Playstation 4 console. Twisted had previously managed to crack open Sony's Android remote play application, originally designed to work only on Sony brand smartphones, so that any Android user could play the PS4 on the go. This, of course, made the PS4 product more useful and added a feature to potential console buyers that Sony had, for some reason, decided to restrict. Xperia phones, it should be noted, aren't exactly jumping off the shelves at stores, but Playstation 4 consoles certainly are. Then Twisted announced he was going to release a PC version of the app. Sony had not released any PC version of its remote play functionality. But shortly after Twisted's announcement, Sony too announced it would be releasing a remote play for PC application.

    • the future is arriving too fast
      Is this what it was like when Apple killed the floppy? Not exactly, I think. Floppies were already inadequately sized to transfer many files of the time. Plastic circles were not just the preferable but practically only means of distributing data. Streaming may be preferable in some cases, but it’s clearly not the only means of distributing some movies. That remains the plastic circle.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • MIP Africa Roadshow 2016 - live updates
      Nicky explains how Chinese investment fuelled this growth, but notes that there has been a drop since 2012. She predicts "three tough years ahead", but says beyond that there is great potential in the continent - partly due to under-utilised arable land and reserves of commodities. "But there is also more to Africa," she says, as many governments are seeking to diversify their economies, for example by investing in manufacturing.

      Conflicts and corruption still present challenges, she says, but things are improving. "We've seen significant improvements in places like Rwanda where you can now start a business online at virtually no cost." Telephone and internet use are growing rapidly.

      There are lots of questions, many asking Nicky to expand on some of the many charts she has presented on African economic data.

    • IP Valuation For Universities, Patent Flexibilities On Tap At WIPO
      The guide provides practical advice to assist universities and publicly-funded research organisations to identify their valuable intangible assets, rank them by using different valuation approaches, manage, and commercialise those with potential market value.

    • Copyrights

      • Swedish Court: Wikipedia Hosting Photos Of Public Artwork Is Copyright Infringement For Some Reason
        Wikimedia has, of course, a somewhat tortured history when it comes to copyright and artwork that appears on Wikipedia. Whether it's political logos, German museum art, and this goddamned monkey, Wikipedia often finds itself targeted over uploaded photos of artwork and copyright claims that too often appear to be either baseless or at cross-purposes with the world of art more generally. When you mix all of this up with a strange sense of entitlement by those who produce public art over how that art is photographed, the result is a Swedish court declaring that Wikipedia has violated copyright by hosting pictures of public Swedish statues.
      • Swedish Supreme Court uses three-step test to interpret restrictively freedom of panorama
        As readers will remember, Article 5(3)(h) of the InfoSoc Directive allows Member States to adopt a national exception/limitation to the rights harmonised by that directive to permit the "use of works, such as works of architecture or sculpture, made to be located permanently in public places".

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