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Links 27/9/2017: Birthday of GNU

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • 6 steps to perfecting an open source product strategy
    Suppose you have an open source software idea that you want to spread quickly. To gain users, you must make sure your product is both well-made and has all of the right features. You also need to make sure people understand why your project exists and why they should be interested.

    Although recent trends in "DevOps" highlight the need for operations and development experience to blend together, seeing development, product management, and marketing ideas merge is perhaps even more powerful. This is the way I crafted Ansible in the early days—and I believe it grew quickly because of that focus.

  • Verizon's Oath Open Sources Yahoo's Vespa Search Technology
    Oath, the Verizon division that combines AOL and Yahoo, has released source code from Vespa, a tool acquired by Yahoo with the acquisition of the search engine AlltheWeb. The technology crunches data and is used to power Yahoo search services. The idea is to build out a network of developers to use the technology.

  • Yahoo open-sources Vespa, its most important software release since Hadoop
    Oath, the subsidiary of Verizon Communications Inc. that was created when the company acquired Yahoo Inc. earlier this year, said today it’s open-sourcing some of its most important internal software for executing web searches and generating recommendations and targeted advertisements.

    The software is called Vespa, and Oath said it’s used to tackle the tricky problem of deciding what to show users in response to input such as text typed into a search box. Oath said it actually uses Vespa to power more than 150 applications, including its popular photography website, Yahoo Mail and some aspects of the Yahoo search engine, such as local results, answers to questions and image searches. Vespa also powers Yahoo’s advertising, handling more than 3 billion native ad requests every day.

  • Don’t Miss These Free Guides to Running a Successful Open Source Program
    At organizations of all types, launching and maintaining successful open source programs has become a business priority. A strong open source program office helps to ensure that open source is supported, nurtured, shared, explained, and leveraged. With such an office, organizations can establish and execute on their open source strategies in clear terms.

    With all this in mind, The Linux Foundation and The TODO Group (Talk Openly Develop Openly) have published a free collection of detailed open source guides to aid companies developing open source programs. The guides are available to you now, and this is the first in a series of articles that can introduce you to the value of the guides.

  • 7 Heated Debates from Free and Open Source Software History
    Unix was born in 1969 as an operating system that its owner, AT&T, could not sell for profit. That changed in the early 1980s, when AT&T received permission to commercialize Unix.

  • Bossies 2017: The Best of Open Source Software Awards
    Open source software isn’t what it used to be. The term used to conjure images of the lone developer, working into the night and through weekends, banging out line after line of code to scratch a personal itch or realize a personal vision. But with each passing year—and every new survey of the open source landscape we call our Best of Open Source Software Awards, or Bossies—those images of the lone visionary get a little hazier.

  • Seahorse Goes Open Source! Data Analysts Can Get More from the Free BI Tool Powered by Apache Spark
    Piotr Niedźwiedź,'s CTO and co-founder, explains, "Seahorse hit 10,000 users this year and the number is still growing. From the beginning, we made the tool highly accessible for everyone, offering it at no cost and easy to download in two versions. Now we're ready to make it fully open."

  • Events

    • APIStrat Conference Workshops Cover API Integration, Security, Testing, and More
      The API Strategy & Practice conference (APIStrat) – taking place Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 in Portland – features three days of technical sessions, keynotes, and more, including several workshops providing hands-on learning opportunities. These sessions cover topics such as RESTful API integration, OpenID Connect, API security, and REST API testing.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Quantum Next Generation Web Browser Launches November 14, Beta Out Now
        Mozilla recently put up a dedicated website for its next-generation Firefox web browser, Firefox Quantum, which promises to be twice as fast than current versions and come with numerous performance improvements.

      • New Film, Magazine: The Uncertain Future of Artificial Intelligence and IoT
        What happens when AI virtual assistants can mimic our voices, learn our habits, and double as our drinking buddies?

        It’s a future that doesn’t seem far off. It’s also a future Mozilla is exploring in a new short film and with a new bi-annual magazine.

        Today, Mozilla is releasing a short film commissioned from Superflux titled “Our Friends Electric,” and launching a new magazine titled DING, to explore the impact of connected devices on our lives, our society, and our future.

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)


    • Happy birthday to GNU: celebrating 34 years of the free software movement!
      Since the birth of GNU, a rich collaborative community of developers and activists has sprung up and is still going strong, fighting against proprietary software, software patents, Digital Restrictions Management, and other threats to our freedom and privacy.

      We're a little too busy to party like we did for GNU's 25th birthday and 30th birthday, but we couldn't possibly let the birthday pass without cake.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Italy organises digital transformation hackathon
      On 7 and 8 October, Italy’s governmental Digital Transformation Team is organising a country-wide hackathon, inviting software developers, IT experts and students to help make public-sector software more accessible and easier to use. The developer meetings are scheduled to take place in 25 cities across Italy.

    • PostgreSQL, open source software bringing security, innovation, performance and savings
      Federal agencies continue to be caught between the need to innovate and reduce costs, all while maintaining performance and strong security. This conundrum has driven the adoption of open source software in government, which not only saves money for the government, but also offers more reliability and agility – and better security.

    • EC to launch new Joinup version next week
      Joinup, developed under the Commission’s ISA€² Programme, offers access to more than 2800 interoperability solutions for public administrations. This includes solutions available in the collections of more than 40 standardisation bodies, public administrations and open source software repositories. The platform makes it possible for public services and the private sector to work together on IT solutions. In addition, the Joinup portal helps eGovernment professionals exchange best practices, and aggregates news, studies and benchmarks on government digitisation in the 28 EU Member States and 4 EFTA countries.

  • Licensing/Legal

    • It looks free, but it may come at a cost: the impact of open source on M&A deals [Ed: Lawyers hate FOSS. They only like it when they can profit from FUD about it.]

    • Facebook performs successful license surgery on React, GraphQL
      Facebook on Tuesday freed its React JavaScript library and its GraphQL query language from its unloved license scheme.

      As promised last week, React 16 underwent licensing replacement surgery to remove Facebook's controversial BSD + Patents license and replace it with the more welcome MIT license.

      The operation was deemed necessary because, as Facebook engineering director Adam Wolff put it on Friday, the social network had failed to convince the developer community that its BSD + Patents license was compatible with open source requirements.

      GraphQL, which exists as a specification that's available for implementation, has also been revised. The specification has been put under the Open Web Foundation Agreement (OWFa) v1.0 and Facebook's GraphQL implementation is now available under the MIT license.

  • Programming/Development

    • HHVM 3.22
      HHVM 3.22 is released! This release primarily contains bug fixes, performance improvements, and supporting work for future improvements. Packages have been published in the usual places; see the installation instructions for more information.

    • HHVM 3.22 Brings More Performance Improvements, Bug Fixes
      HHVM 3.22 is now available as this alternative PHP implementation and what serves as the basis for Facebook's Hack programming language.

      While HHVM 3.22 supports PHP5/PHP7, keep in mind Facebook recently announced they are eventually abandoning their PHP focus in favor of focusing HHVM on their Hack language. HHVM 3.24 will be the last release focusing on PHP compatibility while support may still work beyond that for some time, but Hack is Facebook's focus.


  • Siri and Spotlight will now use Google, not Bing, for Web searches
    As of today, searching the Web with Siri or Spotlight on iOS and macOS devices will show you results from Google, not Microsoft’s Bing search engine. This ends a Bing integration that was introduced in iOS 7 back in 2013.

  • Giving you more characters to express yourself
    Interestingly, this isn't a problem everywhere people Tweet. For example, when I (Aliza) Tweet in English, I quickly run into the 140 character limit and have to edit my Tweet down so it fits. Sometimes, I have to remove a word that conveys an important meaning or emotion, or I don’t send my Tweet at all. But when Iku Tweets in Japanese, he doesn’t have the same problem. He finishes sharing his thought and still has room to spare. This is because in languages like Japanese, Korean, and Chinese you can convey about double the amount of information in one character as you can in many other languages, like English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

  • Science

    • Scientists Discover Some of the Oldest Signs of Life on Earth
      The Torngat Mountains in northeastern Canada are full of life. Reindeer graze on lichen, polar bears prowl the coastlines, and great whales swim in the offshore waters. Scientists patrol the land, too, looking for the oldest rocks on the planet, which were formed almost 4 billion years ago, when the Earth was just an infant world.

      Back then, the landscape would have been very different. The Earth was a hellish place that had only just acquired a firm crust. Its atmosphere was devoid of oxygen, and it was regularly pelted with asteroids. There were no reindeer, whales, polar bears, or lichen. But according to new research, there was life.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Bernie Sanders Leans Into Planned Parenthood at the CNN Health Care Debate
      SENS. LINDSEY GRAHAM and Bill Cassidy faced off against Sens. Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar at a CNN town hall Monday night, just hours after their last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act collapsed.

      Earlier that evening, Sen. Susan Collins had become the third Republican to publicly reject the Graham-Cassidy repeal effort but at Monday night’s debate, Graham vowed to “press on.”

      Graham and Cassidy pitched their plan, while Sanders, a Vermont Independent, used the debate to articulate his single-payer proposal, while Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, joined him in defending the gains of Obamacare and picking apart Graham-Cassidy.

    • Bureau awarded grant to investigate global superbug threat
      The Bureau has been awarded a prestigious €130,000 grant from the European Journalism Centre for a year-long project investigating the global problem of superbugs.

      We secured the award with a proposal to investigate how the growth of drug-resistant infections can threaten health systems and stop us meeting global development goals to eradicate epidemics of disease. As part of the project we will report from some of the world’s poorest and wealthiest countries, highlighting solutions as well as problems.

      The Bureau was one of seven organisations awarded a total of €800,000 for news coverage raising awareness to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using distinctive storytelling ideas, new engaging content forms and emerging data journalism techniques.

    • Could recent hurricanes cause reemergence of cholera in Puerto Rico?
      The Caribbean has a long history with cholera, a severe diarrheal illness associated with high mortality. Throughout the 19th century, cholera epidemics were relatively common and were noted to occur in three waves associated with global pandemics.

      During this period there was a confluence of factors promoting disease in the Caribbean, including the degraded health conditions linked to the Atlantic slave trade and colonial rule, as well as frequent contact with individuals or groups arriving from Europe, Africa and elsewhere. In 1855-56 Puerto Rico experienced a major cholera outbreak, despite local efforts to undertake preventive measures, including quarantine.

      The emergence of cholera in Haiti in 2010 is a poignant reminder that the Caribbean remains susceptible to outbreaks. Specifically with respect to Puerto Rico, there are several potential concerns.

    • TIMELINE: The GOP's failed effort to repeal ObamaCare
      For months, Republicans agonized over their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace effort.

      It was declared dead in the spring. Then revived and passed in the House. It appeared dead in the Senate this summer, but came back to life.

      But this week it met its demise — at least in the immediate future. The vehicle they were using to avoid a Democratic filibuster expires at the end of the month, and Republicans won’t be voting on another ObamaCare repeal bill this week.

  • Security

    • Source: Deloitte Breach Affected All Company Email, Admin Accounts

      Deloitte, one of the world’s “big four” accounting firms, has acknowledged a breach of its internal email systems, British news outlet The Guardian revealed today. Deloitte has sought to downplay the incident, saying it impacted “very few” clients. But according to a source close to the investigation, the breach dates back to at least the fall of 2016, and involves the compromise of all administrator accounts at the company as well as Deloitte’s entire internal email system.

    • Security breach exposes data from half a million vehicle tracking devices

      The exposed data, which includes customer credentials, was unearthed through a misconfigured Amazon AWS S3 bucket that was left publically available, and because it wasn't protected by a password, could allow anyone to pinpoint locations visited by customers of the vehicle tracking firm.

    • CCleaner backdoor infecting millions delivered mystery payload to 40 PCs
      At least 40 PCs infected by a backdoored version of the CCleaner disk-maintenance utility received an advanced second-stage payload that researchers are still scrambling to understand, officials from CCleaner's parent company said.

    • Will the Equifax Data Breach Finally Spur the Courts (and Lawmakers) to Recognize Data Harms?
      This summer 143 million Americans had their most sensitive information breached, including their name, addresses, social security numbers (SSNs), and date of birth. The breach occurred at Equifax, one of the three major credit reporting agencies that conducts the credit checks relied on by many industries, including landlords, car lenders, phone and cable service providers, and banks that offer credits cards, checking accounts and mortgages. Misuse of this information can be financially devastating. Worse still, if a criminal uses stolen information to commit fraud, it can lead to the arrest and even prosecution of an innocent data breach victim.

      Given the scope and seriousness of the risk that the Equifax breach poses to innocent people, and the anxiety that these breaches cause, you might assume that legal remedies would be readily available to compensate those affected. You’d be wrong.

      While there are already several lawsuits filed against Equifax, the pathway for those cases to provide real help to victims is far from clear. That’s because even as the number and severity of data breaches increases, the law remains too narrowly focused on people who have suffered financial losses directly traceable to a breach.

    • New breach, same lessons
      The story of recent breaches at the credit-rating agency Equifax, which may have involved the personal details of nearly 150 million people, has probably just begun, given the confusion that still surrounds events. But it’s brought the security of open source software to the fore yet again, and highlighted the ongoing struggle organizations still have with cybersecurity.

    • Apache “Optionsbleed” vulnerability – what you need to know [Ed: The security FUD complex came up with a buzzword: Optionsbleed. But it fails to (over)sell this hype.]

    • Google Android and Apple IOS Update for Critical Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities

    • Average Cyber-Crime Cost to Global Businesses Rises to $11.7M: Report

    • Exclusive: N.Y. regulator subpoenas Equifax over massive breach
      New York state’s financial services regulator has issued a subpoena to Equifax Inc (EFX.N) demanding it provide more information about the massive data breach the credit-reporting firm disclosed this month, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

      New York’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) sent the subpoena to Equifax on Sept. 14, said the person, who declined to be named because the matter has not been made public.

    • Deloitte Hit By Cyberattack That Compromised Client Information & Decided To Basically Tell Nobody At All
      In the wake of the Equifax breach, there has been some discussion about just how quickly companies should publicly disclose when they have been victims of security breaches that reveal client information. In the case of Equifax, the company had essentially been sitting on the knowledge that it was attacked since July before going public in early September. Something like two months, in other words. While most people agree that victim companies should have some time to get their houses in order before opening the window shades, two months seemed like a lot, given the severity of the attack and the number of potential victims among Equifax's clients.

    • Another Banking Trojan Adds Support for NSA's EternalBlue Exploit [Ed: Powered by Microsoft Windows back doors]

    • TalkTalk once told GCHQ: Cyberattack? We'd act fast – to get sport streams back up
      Prior to its disastrous 2015 mega hack, UK ISP TalkTalk had told British spies at GCHQ that should an attack occur, its main focus would be to restore "online sports streaming", according to the head of operations at the country's National Cyber Crime Unit.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Who controls Trident? A brief look at the operation of Britain’s nuclear weapons
      One of the most common myths around the system is that the United States has control over the UK’s Trident missile system, that is not the case.

      It’s often said that the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system is not ‘independent’ or that the UK doesn’t have the ability to use the system without the US agreeing to it, in reality the UK does retain full operational control over the system.

      One common argument is that the US can simply ‘turn off’ the GPS system and therefore can stop the UK using Trident, this is also a myth, Trident isn’t guided by satellite.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Indonesia prepares to divert Bali-bound flights in case of volcanic eruption
      Indonesian authorities are preparing to divert flights to 10 airports across the country in case an increasingly active volcano on the holiday island of Bali erupts and disrupts travel.

      Officials have warned that Mount Agung in eastern Bali could erupt at any time, prompting several countries including Australia and Singapore to issue travel advisor for one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

      “Ten airports will serve as alternatives for flights bound for Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport in case it is closed because of volcanic ash,” Transportation Minister Budi Karya said in a statement on Wednesday.

    • Scientists Urge ‘System Change’ to Avoid Catastrophic Climate Change
      If the world is to have a serious chance of limiting global warming to the internationally-agreed 2 ℃ limit this century, the transition to renewable energy should happen much more rapidly than current efforts, according to a new study in the journal Science.

      The study, by scientists at the universities of Manchester, Sussex, and Oxford, and published on September 22, finds that to meet their carbon emission pledges under the Paris Agreement, governments around the world need to trigger rapid, simultaneous changes across key sectors like electricity, transport, heat, industrial, forestry, and agriculture.

    • Sixth mass extinction of wildlife also threatens global food supplies
      The sixth mass extinction of global wildlife already under way is seriously threatening the world’s food supplies, according to experts.

      “Huge proportions of the plant and animal species that form the foundation of our food supply are just as endangered [as wildlife] and are getting almost no attention,” said Ann Tutwiler, director general of Bioversity International, a research group that published a new report on Tuesday.

    • Portuguese kids crowdfund to sue EU countries for climate inaction
      Six Portuguese children are lined up to sue for stronger climate action through the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a legal charity revealed on Monday.

      The Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), based in London, launched a crowdfunding campaign through CrowdJustice to bring a case against countries signed up to the ECHR. It is aiming to raise €£350,000 ($475,000).

      Lawyers plan to target at least 22 of the 47 signatories to ECHR, including Germany, France, Poland, Turkey, Russia and the UK. While the precise demands are to be determined, they will seek faster emissions cuts and limits on fossil fuel extraction.

      “This case intends to build on the successes which have been achieved through climate change litigation across the world so far,” said lead counsel Marc Willers QC, of Garden Court Chambers.

  • Finance

    • Profits vs. Puerto Rican Lives: Trump Admin Blocks Aid from Reaching Devastated Island
      One week after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump says he will visit the island next Tuesday, even as most of the 3.5 million U.S. citizens who live there remain in the dark, without access to power, clean water, food and fuel. Facing withering criticism, Trump held a press conference Tuesday and denied he has neglected the disaster. His administration also denied a request from several members of Congress to waive shipping restrictions to help get gasoline and other supplies to Puerto Rico as it recovers, even though the Department of Homeland Security waived the Jones Act twice in the last month following hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which hit the mainland United States. We speak with Democracy Now! co-host Juan González and with former New York State Assemblyman Nelson Denis, who wrote about the Jones Act in The New York Times this week in a piece headlined "The Law Strangling Puerto Rico." His book is called "War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America’s Colony."

    • Brexit Diary: What does Donald Tusk mean by “realism”?

      In other words, Tusk believes the UK becomes more “realistic” the closer it comes to accepting that the only “real” alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit.

    • The architecture for sharing tokens across blockchains promises traction
      In April, the Cosmos project raised about $17m in half an hour on the promise to someday let users freely share tokens among Bitcoin, Ethereum and other popular blockchain protocols.

      On Friday at the Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai, China, the Switzerland-based nonprofit behind it committed that Ethereum support is high on its development roadmap.

      One of the problems with blockchain platforms is that there are so many – from JP Morgan's finance-focused Quorum to The Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Fabric. As the wars for dominance are still young, it's not clear yet how many players will stick around, Jacob Eberhardt, a computer science PhD student at Technical University of Berlin in Germany studying Blockchain, told The Register.

    • Sadiq Khan suggests Labour may back second referendum on Brexit
      London Mayor Sadiq Khan has suggested Labour may back a second referendum on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

      Mr Khan hinted he would press for a commitment to a further national vote – on whether to accept any Brexit deal reached – to be included in the next election manifesto.

      The vow came as Kezia Dugdale, Labour’s former leader in Scotland, said the public had the right to have its say in a second referendum.

      Meanwhile, Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s election chief, and a Corbyn ally, refused to rule out a further vote, saying: “Who knows where we will be at the end of this process?”

    • U.S. Middle Class Gets Richer, But Wealthy Do Even Better
      Most American families grew richer between 2013 and 2016, but the wealthiest households pulled even further ahead, worsening the nation’s massive disparities in wealth and income.

      The median net worth of all American families rose 16 percent last year from 2013 to $97,300, according to a Federal Reserve survey released Wednesday. The median is the point where half of families fall below and half above.

      The figures echo recent data released earlier this month from the Census Bureau that also showed middle-class incomes rising. For roughly the first five years of the economic recovery that began in 2009, higher-earning households reaped most of the gain. But in 2015 and 2016, the low and falling unemployment rate has helped push up pay at all income levels. Rising home prices have also restored some wealth to middle income families.

      But the Fed report starkly illustrates the depth of the nation’s wealth and income gaps. The disparities exist along lines of income, race and ethnicity, and between cities and rural dwellers.

    • Jeremy Corbyn pledges to tear up Thatcher's economic legacy and replace it with 'new common sense' model
      Jeremy Corbyn will use his flagship conference speech to promise a “new common sense” model for British life that will overturn 30 years of liberal free market economics.

      The leader will set out policies to pull up the foundations of the existing model, in place since Margaret Thatcher reshaped Britain in the 1980s and adhered to by Labour until Mr Corbyn came to office.

      In particular, he will point to the Grenfell Tower disaster as a “tragic monument” to a model of government that has become “brutal and less caring” over the last three decades.

    • Uber Shutting Down U.S. Car-Leasing Business
      Uber Technologies Inc. on Wednesday confirmed it is shutting down its U.S. auto-leasing business, months after it discovered it was losing 18-times more money per vehicle than previously thought.

    • EU lawmakers prepare critical resolution on Brexit
      The European Parliament is preparing a draft resolution that is critical of progress in the Brexit negotiations, particularly on the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K., according to three officials familiar with the text.

      The draft resolution, drawn up by the Parliament’s political groups, will be discussed on Thursday at the Conference of Presidents, the main decision-making body in the assembly. The text, which is subject to change, will then be voted on by MEPs next week in the Strasbourg plenary session.

      Ahead of those discussions, the U.K.’s Brexit Secretary David Davis is scheduled to meet Parliament President Antonio Tajani Wednesday as part of an effort by U.K. ministers to communicate directly with top EU officials and national governments about the contents of Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech in Florence last week.

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Naomi Klein: Trump's like the fatberg – horrible, noxious, hard to dislodge

    • Trump appears to deletes tweets backing Strange after primary loss
      President Trump on Tuesday apparently began deleting his tweets supporting Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in Alabama's Senate primary after Strange lost the race to former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore.

      Trump had tweeted about Strange several times in the days leading up to the primary, including the day of, but those tweets had disappeared as of Tuesday night.

    • The White House as Donald Trump’s new casino

      [...] he ran many of them using excess debt, deception, and distraction, while a number of the ones he guided personally (as opposed to just licensing them the use of his name) – including his five Atlantic City casinos, his airline, and a mortgage company – he ran into the ground and then ditched. He escaped relatively unscathed financially, while his investors and countless workers and small businesses to whom he owed money were left holding the bag. [...]

    • America Wasn’t Built for Humans

      Tribalism was an urge our Founding Fathers assumed we could overcome. And so it has become our greatest vulnerability.

    • Is Your Senator Enabling Donald Trump’s Warmongering?
      President Trump shocked the world when he used his first address to the United Nations to talk about obliterating a country of 25 million people. “The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” the commander in chief told the assembled diplomats last week. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

      At every turn in a speech like none in the history of the American presidency, Trump outlined a belligerent agenda that raised the prospect of clashes, interventions, and wars with North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and a host of other countries.

      Trump kept up the saber rattling after he left the podium, tweeting: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!” The North Koreans read that as a declaration of war. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Monday that was a misread.

    • Spain sends in police reinforcements in Catalonia vote run-up
      The Spanish government has sent thousands of police officers to Catalonia in the run-up to Sunday's planned referendum.

      Spain's central government insists the vote is illegal, and is determined to stop it from going ahead.

      But Catalan officials say if the "yes" camp wins, they will declare independence within days.

      With five days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia's pro-separatist government and Madrid is increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and international opinion.

    • Angela’s ashes: 5 takeaways from the German election
      Angela Merkel will remain German chancellor. That widely anticipated outcome was about the only unsurprising element of Sunday’s German election.

      The far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) finished much stronger than most observers dared predict, becoming the first unabashedly racist, anti-foreigner party to sit in Germany’s parliament since the days of Hitler.

      The Social Democrats (SPD) all but imploded, opting to go into opposition to lick their wounds rather than risk another “grand coalition” with Merkel. The Free Democrats, back in parliament after four years in the wilderness, along with the Greens, finished slightly better than projected, opening the door to a three-way tie-up with Merkel’s conservatives. Previously considered a long shot, the combination Germans call “Jamaica” now looks like the only option left to form a government.

      Here are five takeaways from Sunday’s election.

    • Corbyn speech: Idolised leader enthralls those who have seen the light
      Jeremy Corbyn was up on stage for minutes before the chanting died away. He stood there, awkwardly smiling out at the hall as it serenaded him with his name. The seconds ticked by.

      Amid all the chaos and self-harm of Brexit, it can be difficult to remember the things this country does well, but instinctive cynicism about politicians is certainly one of them. Sure, these are party supporters. They've taken time off work to be at a party conference and are, by virtue of that single fact, not normal or healthy individuals. They are the core tribalists, those who have given themselves over to the cause. But let's not pretend that this phenomenon is limited to the hall. We saw it throughout the summer at music festivals. We see it online. There is a terrible new tradition taking hold in Labour, of something approaching hero worship.

    • Jared Kushner signed up to vote in New York elections as a woman
      Jared Kushner's publicly available New York voter registration records show that the president's son-in-law ticked the "female" box when he signed up in 2009.

      The Trump regime is obsessed with the discredited notion of widespread voter-fraud. The evidence they've shown for this alleged fraud largely consists of minor administrative errors, like people who register to vote in a new state without informing the old state that they've moved (other supposed problems are even more dubious, like two people with common names like "John Smith" who share a birth date being registered to vote in different places).

    • Trump’s deleted tweets present legal liabilities
      President Donald Trump’s prolific Twitter feeds may be a lifeline to his political base, but they remain an ongoing legal liability due to dozens of deletions.

      Since Trump took office in January, his @realdonaldtrump account has deleted 41 posts, including three on Tuesday pertaining to the Senate GOP primary in Alabama that found Trump backing the losing Republican in the race, according to archives kept by the nonprofit journalism website ProPublica.

    • Roy Moore Wins Runoff in Alabama, Beating Trump-Supported Candidate
      President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership suffered a series of humiliating losses Tuesday, starting with the collapse of their Obamacare repeal efforts and culminating in the victory of Roy Moore—a pistol-waving Christian “theocrat” who believes communities in the United States are being overtaken by Sharia law—over the Trump- and McConnell-backed candidate Luther Strange in Alabama’s special election primary.

      So humiliating was Moore’s victory that Trump swiftly began deleting tweets he had sent over the past several days urging his supporters to turn out for Strange, who the president had taken to calling “Big Luther.”

    • Fake news writer in 2016 presidential election found dead

      A writer of fake political news who previously said he felt responsible for President Trump's election has died near Phoenix, police said Tuesday.

      Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Mark Casey told The Associated Press that Paul Horner was found dead in his bed earlier this month.

      Casey said there was "evidence at the scene" that "suggested this could be an accidental overdose."

      The cause of Horner's death has not yet been finalized.

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • Commission silent as Madrid shuts down websites ahead of Catalonia referendum
      The European Commission remained silent on Tuesday (26 September) when confronted with the news that Spanish authorities had shut down websites that provide information about this weekend’s Catalan independence referendum. A vote that Spain still maintains is illegal.

      With four days to go until the October 1 vote, the clash between Catalonia’s pro-separatist government and Madrid is increasingly being played out in the arena of logistics and international opinion.

    • SESTA Is Being Pushed As The Answer To A Sex Trafficking 'Epidemic' That Simply Doesn't Exist
      The rationale behind the Section 230-upending SESTA bill is that sex trafficking is such a huge problem, some collateral damage is a small price to pay. The push begins with the targeted criminal behavior itself. No one wants to appear as though they're opposed to fighting trafficking, so that scores some quick wins with a few legislators. It continues with inflated numbers suggesting trafficking has become a multi-billion dollar industry here in the US. Two backers of an earlier human trafficking bill - Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Rep. Ann Wagner -- both cited unsupported numbers while discussing the criminal activity. Goodlatte claimed "child sex trafficking alone is a $9.8 billion industry." Wagner's money quote was about the same -- $9.5 billion -- but didn't narrow it down to just child sex trafficking.

    • National Trolls
      Last month in an open letter, the editor of China Quarterly, Tim Pringle, reported that more than three hundred articles deemed ‘sensitive’ by the Chinese censors had been blocked in mainland China. The letter caused outrage among Sinologists. CQ’s publisher, Cambridge University Press, appeared to have complied out of fear that failure to do so would cost it its entire operation in China. The Chinese response to Pringle’s letter was typical: the party’s mouthpiece the Global Times suggested in an editorial that it wasn’t important if some articles in CQ disappeared from the Chinese internet. This was a matter of principle and time would tell whose principles were better suited to the era. Why, in other words, should foreign academics be entitled to preferential treatment? If you want to conduct your business here, you must comply with our laws, as all Chinese do. (Netizens refer to the Global Times as an agile dog that always fetches the ball, no matter how far the Party throws it; also as the ‘one-eyed minion’.)

    • Mom, mom! Make China stopppp! US govt gripes about Beijing's internet censorship to WTO
      The United States government is attempting to limit extraordinary online censorship efforts by China, complaining to the World Trade Organization that such measures will damage global trade.

      The Chinese government passed a new cyber security law in November 2016 that took effect this June, which the authorities have been strictly imposing in the lead-up to the Communist Party's Congress in October – an event it only holds every five years – where the party will unveil who its new leadership will be.

      In recent months, not only have VPN services been shut down, but the government has killed off crypto currency exchanges, banned non-Chinese music and TV shows, demanded that chat app users verify their identities, deleted unwelcome images in real time, and forced some citizens to install spyware on their mobile phones.

    • China Blocks WhatsApp In Latest Censorship Bid

    • Here's How China Is Able to Censor WhatsApp and Other Chat Apps

    • China Blocks Whatsapp; Censorship Wins?
    • China disrupts WhatsApp ahead of Communist Party meeting

    • ‘Great Firewall’ Of China Blocks WhatsApp Amid Growing Online Censorship Problem

    • Censorship May Be The Cause Of WhatsApp Disruptions In China

    • China's cyber watchdog imposes top fines on tech firms over censorship

    • 'Ban This Book' is a lesson in great literature censorship

    • Local libraries hosting Banned Book Week event

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Washington Abuses NSA Mass Surveillance Program to Maintain Global Power
      After September 11 the US declared war on terror implying that any means could be used in order to protect American citizens. In 2013 the scandal broke when details of extensive US surveillance were exposed and now there are good grounds for believing that terrorist threat might be only a pretext for control.


      The NSA is currently conducting surveillance on more than 100,000 foreign nationals outside the United States, several senior US officials revealed on Monday. US officials claimed so-called Section 702 authorities have helped stymie cybersecurity threats and disrupt terror plots.
    • This former NSA spy station explodes with Berlin street art
      I'm at Berlin's Teufelsberg Field Station, a former listening post for the US National Security Agency, known for its giant white bubbles on top of the facility that look like a collection of moons. Abandoned for many years, Teufelsberg is taking on a new lease on life as an art exhibition space.

    • Google Pulls YouTube From Amazon Echo: All About Control Or Just More Corporation On Corporation Violence?
      If you haven't heard, something slightly strange happened in the tech world a few days ago. Suddenly, and seemingly without warning, Google decided to break YouTube for the Amazon Echo Show product. The Show is the Echo product that comes with a small display screen where you can... you know... watch videos. YouTube used to work on the product, and was even showcased by Amazon when it demonstrated the product at tech shows, but now all you get is Alexa's monotone voice letting you know "Currently, Google is not supporting YouTube on Echo Show."
    • US Intelligence Unit Was Blocked From Tracking Terrorists
      As images of bloody civilians fleeing London Bridge filled newsfeeds last June 3, US intelligence and law enforcement officials raced to help investigate an unfolding terrorist assault on America’s closest ally.

      But one group of officers uniquely situated to help was shut out: officials in the Treasury Department bureau that tackles financial crimes and terrorist financing. In the first frantic moments of an attack, the bureau’s databases of banking records can yield invaluable clues about who the killers are, who else is in their cells, and whether more attacks are imminent.

    • [Older] Case Study: Your Tweet Can and Will Be Used Against You
      Police and security services are increasingly outsourcing intelligence collection to third-party companies which are assigning threat scores and making predictions about who we are.

      The rapid expansion of social media, connected devices, street cameras, autonomous cars, and other new technologies has resulted in a parallel boom of tools and software which aim to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from our increased connection. Police and security services see this data as an untapped goldmine of information which give intimate access to the minds of an individual, group, or a population.

      As a result, the police have the ability to enter and monitor our li

    • GPS freaking out? Maybe you’re too close to Putin

      Throughout several days in the end of June, over 20 ships reported problems with GPS reception in the Black Sea. According to experts, the problems were probably a result of an attack on the GPS infrastructure.

    • Technology preview: Private contact discovery for Signal

      Using this service, Signal clients will be able to efficiently and scalably determine whether the contacts in their address book are Signal users without revealing the contacts in their address book to the Signal service.

    • Taking Privacy Seriously: Leaving Google Behind
      Recently, I made the decision to become a little more secure on the internet. I don’t have much to hide except maybe bank account info, but I was struck by a Glenn Greenwald quote from a TED Talk he gave about privacy.

    • Update: EFF Lawsuit Results in Release of More FISC Opinions
      The government has released eleven secret court orders and opinions as a result of an EFF lawsuit seeking to make significant decisions by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) public.

      The documents, which you can read here, primarily deal with requests by U.S. intelligence agencies to access business records from private companies or to obtain non-content records about phone calls and Internet communications under two provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

      We’ve known for years that the intelligence community has abused these authorities—which ostensibly authorize the collection of records or surveillance on individual targets—to engage in mass surveillance. Most famously, the NSA used FISA’s business records authority to collect the call records of millions of Americans. And, from 2004 to 2011, the government also used FISA’s Pen Register/Trap and Trace provision to collect Internet metadata of Americans in bulk.

      Although Congress passed the USA FREEDOM Act in 2015 to prohibit these bulk collection programs, it had long been suspected that the intelligence community had used these authorities to collect other types of information in bulk.

    • If data is the new oil, are tech companies robbing us blind?

      Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes. So why are we giving it away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations, and more accurate search results? It’s an important question to ask in a world where the accumulation and scraping of data is worth billions of dollars — and even a money-losing company with enough data about its users can be worth well into the eight-figure region.

    • Russia tells Facebook to store data locally or get out

      Russia's communications watchdog has told Facebook that it will have to store the data of Russian users locally or else face closure next year.

    • Russia Threatens to Shut Facebook Over Local Data Storage Laws

      President Vladimir Putin signed a law in 2014 that requires global internet firms to store personal data of Russian clients on local servers. Companies ranging from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd complied, while others like Twitter Inc. demanded extra time to evaluate the economic feasibility of doing so.

    • The Data Tinder Collects, Saves, and Uses

      Under European law, service providers like Tinder are required to show users what information they have on them when requested. This author requested, and this is what she received: [...]

  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • The DOJ illegally obtained the identities of donors to a legal defense fund I started 5 years ago. Here’s why I’m suing them now and felt strongly motivated to become a plaintiff.

    • British News Channel Touts Amazon Bomb Materials Moral Panic That Ends Up Being About Hobbyists And School Labs
      Moral panics take many forms, from Dungeons & Dragons being a lure to satanism in the eyes of parents to the wonderful theory that playing chess would turn children into violent psychopaths. What these moral panics tend to share in common is the extraction of seemingly nefarious details on a subject which, out of context, are interpreted in a demonizing manner and then exported for public consumption. Thus the public gets often well-meaning but highly misleading information on the terribleness of some innocuous thing. This practice continues to this day, often times helped along by a media environment desperate for clicks and eyeballs. A recent example of this would be British media's Channel 4 News finding that Amazon's algorithm had a habit of recommending a combination of products together that appeared designed for terrorist-style explosives.

    • Singapore teen blogger Amos Yee walks free in US
      Singaporean teen blogger Amos Yee was released from US detention Tuesday after a court upheld a decision to grant him asylum. Photos showed Yee, who has been jailed twice in native Singapore for critical views on race and religion, leaving a US immigration facility in downtown Chicago with a friend and his belongings stuffed in a plastic bag. A photo posted on his Facebook page was captioned: "Amos Yee is now a free man."

    • DHS says it will force everyone who's ever immigrated to the USA to hand over social media
      A new DHS policy that will go into effect on Oct 18 will force everyone who's ever been naturalized as a US citizen or who is currently residing in the USA on a Green Card (I currently reside in the USA on a Green Card) to hand over "social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results" for permanent scrutiny in our government files.

    • DHS To Officially Require Immigrants' Files To Contain Social Media Info
      As the report notes, the policy shift was inspired by a terrorist attack the searches might have done little to prevent. The pilot programs rolled out December 2015, meaning the planned intrusiveness expansion predates President Trump's grandiose border plans. This is bound to have a chilling effect on Americans who don't even plan to travel out of the country. Anyone spending much time interacting with immigrants/visa holders/permanent residents on social media can expect to have their sides of conversations revealed by these searches, even if they're natural-born US citizens located well outside the DHS's Constitution-free zones. The latent threat of exposed convos could steer US citizens away from engaging with anyone whose nationality might not be 100% American. The new rule is silent on the subject of passwords, but it's pretty clear reluctance to turn over this info will result in "incomplete" searches of immigrants' devices. The best case scenario is they're free to go… without their devices. The worst case is hours of detention while CBP/ICE agents attempt to talk detainees into handing over this information.

    • US Homeland Security Will Start Collecting Social Media Info on All Immigrants October 18th

      The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding the kinds of information that it collects on immigrants to include social media information and search results. The new policy, which covers immigrants who have obtained a green card and even naturalized citizens, will take effect on October 18th.

    • Notice of Modified Privacy Act System of Records. [iophk: "very broad, all-encompassing categories of individuals affected by this"]

      5) expand the categories of records to include the following: country of nationality; country of residence; the USCIS Online Account Number; social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results; and the Department of Justice (DOJ), Executive Office for Immigration Review and Board of Immigration Appeals proceedings information;


      (11) update record source categories to include publicly available information obtained from the internet [sic], public records, public institutions, interviewees, commercial data providers, and information obtained and disclosed pursuant to information sharing agreements;



    • Survey Reveals How Racism Impacts the Lives of Black Americans
      “The Lives and Voices of Black America on Politics, Race and Policy” was commissioned by Ford Foundation via In Our Own Voice: the National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. The survey tapped 1,003 Black people ages 18 and up from July 18 through August 7 and asked about their views on racism, the current political landscape and the policies that impact their lives every day.

    • Native American Rape Survivors Tell How Deck Is Stacked Against Them
      WHITE EARTH RESERVATION, Minn.—Candice (not her real name) awoke with a start. Someone was pulling down her sweatpants. It was a male friend.

      “Stop!” she shouted.

      He kept groping her. She kicked him and he fell off the bed. She dashed out of the bedroom, tripping and tumbling down the stairs. Gripped with fear, she heard his footsteps behind her in the dark and forced herself to stand upright as she staggered out to the porch.

    • Colin Kaepernick's Long Victory
      It is amazing how quickly and willingly so many people, when pressed by a discomforting situation, will take on a societal self-policing role that favors power and condemns anyone asking necessary questions. This phenomenon exploded after September 11, goaded on by the likes of Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer, who famously warned us all to "watch what we say."

      That voluntary silence, that timorous obsequiousness to power, was a huge part of the reason the Bush administration was able to lie the country into war in Iraq. Why don't you support the troops? Why do you hate America? These obnoxious broadsides were greeted with an enthusiastic "Yeah!" by those who tend toward self-policing, because doing so feels safer, because belonging feels good.

    • UK treatment of foreign nationals 'could colour' MEPs’ view on Brexit
      The European parliament’s Brexit coordinator has warned the home secretary that Britain’s recent treatment of foreign nationals could “colour” MEPs’ attitudes to whether they approve a future Brexit deal.

      Guy Verhofstadt, a former Belgian prime minister, has written to Amber Rudd to express leading MEPs’ concerns about a series of incidents highlighted by the Guardian, including the threat to deport a Japanese woman who lives with her Polish husband in London.

    • Oklahoma Is Imprisoning So Many People It Can’t Hire Enough Guards To Keep Up
      In July of this year, some 150 prisoners at the Great Plains Correctional Facility in Tulsa, Okla., rioted. The riot reportedly developed after a fight between prisoners and lasted for about eight hours. Two prison guards were taken hostage before the prisoners were corralled and returned to their cells.

      The incident immediately led to calls for a guard increase. In January, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections announced it had a shortage of correctional officers relative to the state's growing prison population. Oklahoma has the second highest per-capita incarceration rate in the country, and the highest rates of incarceration for both women and black men.

  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • After Backlash, Verizon Will Give Rural Data Users A Bit More Time To Get The Hell Off Its Network

    • Mission Accomplished: Ajit Pai's FCC Declares Wireless Competition Issues Fixed
      The FCC is required by law to offer an annual report on the state of competition in the broadband industry. Depending on who's in power, and how eager they are to downplay the lack of said competition to the benefit of industry, these reports often provide comical insight into how the regulator fiddles with data to justify policy apathy. Under George W. Bush's presidency, the FCC declared the wireless industry perfectly competitive. Under the Obama administration, the FCC refused to state one way or the other whether the sector is competitive. Neither party has what you'd call courage when it comes to calling a spade a spade.

    • It’s time for Congress to fire the FCC chairman
      FCC chairman Ajit Pai is genuinely one of the nicest people in Washington. He’s smart, personable, and the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with. But nice guys don’t always make good policy (I’ve been bipartisan on this), and Pai’s record means real danger for American consumers and the internet itself. If you believe communications networks should be fast, fair, open, and affordable, you need ask your senator to vote against Pai’s reconfirmation. Now.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Patented Seeds Are Terrible—Here's How We Can Regain Ownership of Our Crop Genetic Resources
      We Americans value the freedom to do what we want with our property. These days, our freedom of action in regard to what we own is increasingly being eroded and constrained by the expansion of corporate power and the evolving legal dimensions of ownership.

      Nowhere has this tendency to limit freedom to operate come into sharper focus than in farming. A farmer may buy a John Deere tractor, but ownership of the copyrighted software—without which the tractor cannot run and cannot be repaired—is retained by the company. According to Deere, the farmer has “an implied lease” to operate the tractor but is prohibited from making any repair or change involving use of the copyrighted code.

    • UN Technology Bank To Build IP Infrastructure In LDCs; Private Sector Funds Needed
      A new United Nations Technology Bank for least-developed countries aimed at growing technology transfer and intellectual property infrastructure across the 48 poorest nations became operational at last week’s annual UN General Assembly in New York. The bank’s creation represents the first target of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved.

    • G7 ICT Ministers: Free Data Flows, More Access To Data, But IP Protection Nonetheless
      Openness, security and the support for innovation through the empowerment of small and medium companies are the three core points of the joint statement of the G7 ICT Ministers after their two-day meeting in Turin, Italy ending today. While the host, Italian Minister of Economic Development Carlo Calenda, heavily underlined the need to avoid in digitalisation policies the mistakes made in globalisation, many topics of the final statement point to highly familiar commitments, with better protection of intellectual property being one.

    • 5 Shocking Things Nobody Tells You About Getting Tattoos

      But not even your skin is immune to the laws of intellectual property [sic], and getting a pop culture tattoo might just land you a real tricky cease-and-desist order.

    • Copyrights

      • Yet Another Developer Sees That Free Can Work For Video Games As Both An Anti-Piracy Strategy And As Promotion
        We've made the argument for some time that there are ways to use giving away free content in order to both stave off the threat of video game piracy and to garner greater attention for the product. For all of the congratulations we heap on game developers for simply not completely freaking out over the fact that piracy exists, far too few of those developers go on to actually take advantage of what freely given away products can do for them. But there are those out there who get it, including Indie Gala, a studio that is essentially giving away its product as it stands for free, both because it wants gamers to get clean copies of the game from clean sites and in order to drive those gamers to the Early Access Steam version of the game.

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