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04.12.17

Links 12/4/2017: Snap Lands in Fedora, OpenBSD 6.1 Released

Posted in Site News at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Where does the Ubuntu Linux desktop go from here?

      Seven years ago, Canonical moved the Ubuntu Linux desktop from the Gnome 3.x interface to its own Unity front-end. By the release of Ubuntu 11.10, Unity had become Ubuntu’s default desktop. Even in these early days, Unity was meant to be more. The dream was for Unity to become a universal interface for PCs, smartphones, and tablets. It was a dream destined not to come true.

    • Our Trip to Dell | Linux Action Show 464
    • Pinebook Linux Laptop Now Shipping From $89

      Those that did not already pre-order the Pinebook Linux laptop, but would still like to get their hands on the new hardware will be pleased to know it is now shipping from just $89.

      To recap the Pinebook Linux laptop is fitted with a 64-bit Allwinner A64 ARM Cortex-A53 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of eMMC storage and supports connectivity via both 802.11b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

  • Server

    • Nginx might have 33% market share, Apache isn’t falling below 50%

      A better title for the original article would be: Nginx runs on 33% of top websites, supplementing Apache deployments.

      This is one of those rare occasions where 1 + 1 != 2. Nginx can have 33% market share and Apache can have 85% market share, because they’re often combined on the same stack. Things don’t have to add up to 100%.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Ubuntu 17.04 Drops DRM Support For Old VIA, SiS, R128 GPUs

        The stock kernel of Ubuntu 17.04 is doing away with Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) support for a number of ancient graphics processors.

        A user initially filed a bug report over his VIA S3 UniChrome Pro no longer having DRM support. He commented, “This will make me and other Ubuntu 17.04 users with Via hardware sad (I’m guessing there’s at least five of us). Makes for an annoying Ubuntu experience when browsing the web at nearly slide-show speeds while trying to find the correct drivers for our Nvidia and AMD cards.”

      • A new hope

        It is no secret that I think there’s value to the Mir project and I’d like it to be a valued contribution to the free software landscape.

        I’ve written elsewhere about my efforts to make it easy to use Mir for making desktop, phone and “Internet of Things” shells, I won’t repeat that here beyond saying “have a look”.

        It is important to me that Mir is GPL. That makes it a contribution to a “commons” that I care about.

      • Mir Developer: Anyone Interested In Native Wayland Clients In Mir?

        While Canonical is expected to maintain Mir for IoT use-cases, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS is expected to use the GNOME desktop on Wayland. The community forks so far of Unity 8 also appear to want to switch to Wayland eventually rather than Mir. In trying to maintain relevance for Mir, longtime Mir developer Alan Griffiths is asking whether the community would be interested in native Wayland client support in Mir.

      • NVIDIA Fermi On Nouveau Makes Baby Steps Towards Memory Re-Clocking

        While NVIDIA’s GeForce 400/500 “Fermi” graphics cards have since been succeeded by Kepler, Maxwell, and now Pascal, the Fermi hardware is still receiving some love from open-source NVIDIA (Nouveau) developers in taking baby steps towards working re-clocking support.

      • This week in vc4 (2017-04-10): dmabuf fencing, meson
      • VC4 Raspberry Pi Driver Working On DMA-BUF Fencing

        Eric Anholt’s work on the VC4 Raspberry Pi driver stack continues with his most recent activities being the start of DMA-BUF fencing support and continuing efforts around using the Meson build system in the X.Org world.

      • It’s Becoming Easier To Write Linux DRM Drivers

        While writing DRM (Direct Rendering Manager) drivers were once a rather daunting task and not really considered much by ARM/embedded developers, over the past few years DRM has evolved a lot as it’s picked up new drivers — especially for today’s many ARM SoCs — and its core infrastructure has improved with picking up many new helpers and other improvements that lower the barrier of entry for DRM development.

      • Unigine Superposition Is A Beautiful Way To Stress Your GPU In 2017, 17-Way Graphics Card Comparison

        It’s already been seven years since Unigine Corp rolled out the Unigine Heaven tech demo and four years since Unigine Valley while in that time while we have seen thousands of Linux game ports emerge, but few can match the visual intensity of these tech demos. In looking to set a new standard for jaw-dropping graphics and preparing to torture current Pascal and Polaris graphics cards as well as future Volta and Vega hardware, Unigine Corp today is releasing Unigine Superposition 1.0. Unigine Superposition is one godly GPU benchmark and is a beauty to watch.

      • Pitoiset Prepping Bindless Textures For Mesa

        Samuel Pitoiset, one of the developers on Valve’s open-source Linux driver team focused on better Radeon support, has posted a set of 26 patches for changes needed to support ARB_bindless_texture and is in the process of getting this feature working for the RadeonSI Gallium3D driver.

        The two thousand lines of new code is enough that RadeonSI is working with Linux OpenGL games using bindless textures, like DiRT Rally and other Feral game ports, when paired with RadeonSI Gallium3D patches yet to be posted for review. The ARB_bindless_texture support isn’t causing any Piglit regressions issues.

      • AMD Developers Discuss Better Switching Of Radeon/AMDGPU CIK Support

        Open-source AMD developers have been discussing in recent days how to better deal with the experimental support of GCN 1.1 “Sea Islands” (and GCN 1.0 “Southern Islands”) support in AMDGPU and making it easier to enable while ensuring the Radeon DRM driver with its mature GCN 1.0/1.1 support doesn’t interfere.

      • Intel Graphics Installer Updated To Version 2.0.4, Install Intel drivers in Ubuntu/Linux Mint

        Intel Graphics Installer let you get driver updates directly from Intel for best performance, Intel is known for developing quality drivers for Linux operating system. It is an open source application that provides Linux users with a straightforward way to install the latest video drivers for their Intel graphics cards in any Linux-based operating system, source code with gpg of installer is available to configure-compile-install in any Linux distribution.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Adjusting Application Launchers to the Task with KDE Plasma

        The classical desktop, consisting of a menu, panel, and a workspace, has been obsolete for years. What was adequate in the days of twenty megabyte hard drives now leaves users with the choice of either having a workspace inconveniently crowded with launchers, or starting applications entirely from the menu. In answer to this awkward set of choices, KDE’s Plasma offers several alternatives: folder views, filters, and Activities. These alternatives represent different ways of reducing the number of icons on the workspace, so that for any given task, you have only the launchers relevant to what you are currently working on.

      • KDE at the Augsburger Linux-Infotag 2017

        In two weeks I’ll be in Augsburg at the 16th Augsburger Linux-Infotag.

        Here you’ll have a chance to meet in person, have a look at the latest and greatest Plasma Desktop and see what’s coming up for Plasma 5.10 and other future goodies!

      • [Krita] Interview with Marcos Ebrahim

        My name is Marcos Ebrahim. I’m an Egyptian artist and illustrator specialized in children’s book art, having 5 years experience with children’s animation episodes as computer graphics artist. I have just finished my first whole book as children’s illustrator on a freelance basis that will be on the market at Amazon soon. I’m also working on my own children’s book project as author and illustrator.

      • How input works – touch screen edge swipe gestures

        Continuing my series about how input works in KWin/Wayland I want to discuss a brand new feature we implemented for Plasma 5.10. This year we had a developer sprint in Stuttgart and discussed what kind of touchpad and touch screen gestures we want to support and how to implement it. Now the result of this discussion got merged into our master branch and we are currently discussing which actions to use by default.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • “GNOME w/Cosimo Cecchi” – Lunduke Hour – Apr 10, 2017

        In this episode of the Lunduke Hour, I talk with GNOME Foundation Director, Cosimo Cecchi. We talk about the future of GNOME, how badly I want a GNOME-powered tablet, and how the recent Ubuntu announcement of moving to GNOME impacts the project.

      • [Deepin 15.4] The panel
      • Lila-HD Icons Designed for Linux/Unix And They Look Great

        Since there are many icon packs available for Linux desktops but it feels good when new icon set joins this family. Lila-HD icons are designed from scratch for Linux and Unix-like operating systems and licensed under the CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Basically there are two variants in this set orange which is main and blue which is secondary, you can choose whatever suites your desktop theme. It is well designed and crafted icons theme which gives a glossy look and makes it more appealing but not all icons looks glossy. There are fairly plenty of icons available for applications and contains most of the necessary icons, since this icon theme is in active development so be prepare to see some missing icons or bugs but you can report issues to creator and get them fixed, there is one thing I found need to be added icons for dark panel. It works in most of the Linux desktops such as Unity, KDE, Gnome, Mate, Xfce, Lxde and so. Macbuntu theme used in the following screenshots. You can use Unity Tweak Tool, Gnome-tweak-tool to change themes/icons.

      • GNOME Shell and Mutter Get HiDPI Improvements, Various Bug Fixes in GNOME 3.24.1

        GNOME Project’s Florian Müllner announced today, April 11, 2017, the release and immediate availability for download of the first maintenance updates for the GNOME Shell and Mutter components of the GNOME 3.24 desktop environment.

        The GNOME development team is hard at work these days to release GNOME Shell 3.24.1, which should land tomorrow, April 12, with various small improvements and bug fixes for many of the desktop’s core components and applications, including, of course, the GNOME Shell interface and Mutter window manager.

        GNOME Shell 3.24.1 comes with various fixes for some of the issues discovered since the release of GNOME 3.24. These include the ability to restrict menus to screen height on HiDPI displays, loading of portals that require a new window, as well as a DND over window previews in the Overview mode.

      • GNOME Builder 3.24.1 Point Release Supports Live Editing of Sphinx Documentation

        GNOME Project’s Florian Müllner announced today, April 11, 2017, the release and immediate availability for download of the first maintenance updates for the GNOME Shell and Mutter components of the GNOME 3.24 desktop environment.

  • Distributions

    • KaOS Linux Celebrates Fourth Anniversary with Brand-New Plasma Wayland Edition

      The developers of the independently developed KaOS GNU/Linux distribution were proud to announce today the release and general availability of the KaOS 2017.04 ISO snapshot for the month of April 2017.

    • New Releases

      • Tiny Core 8.0 Is A Mini 16MB Linux Distro

        Anyone searching for a super small Linux Distro might be interested to know that this week Tiny Core version 8.0 has been released and takes up just 16 MB of space and will boot on most computers in just a couple of seconds.

    • OpenSUSE/SUSE

      • Deploying OBS

        Open Build Service from SuSE is web service building deb/rpm packages. It has recently been added to Debian, so finally there is relatively easy way to set up PPA style repositories in Debian. Relative as in “there is a learning curve, but nowhere near the complexity of replicating Debian’s internal infrastructure”. OBS will give you both repositories and build infrastructure with a clickety web UI and command line client (osc) to manage. See Hectors blog for quickstart instructions.

    • Red Hat Family

      • CentOS-Based Koozali SME Server 9.2 Linux Distro Gets a Second Release Candidate

        Terry Fage from the Koozali SME Server development team announced today, April 11, 2017, the availability of the second Release Candidate (RC) of the upcoming Koozali SME Server 9.2 operating system.

        Being the leading GNU/Linux distribution for small and medium-sized enterprises, Koozalui SME Server is available for free and distributed under the GPL license. Koozali SME Server 9.2 has been in development for the past two months, and it aims to bring all the latest security updates and technologies to the stable series.

      • Finance

      • Fedora

        • Single images and page sizes

          “The year of Linux on the desktop” is an old running joke. This has resulted in many “The year of X on the Y” spin off jokes. One of these that’s close to my heart is “The year of the arm64 server”. ARM has long dominated the embedded space and the next market they intend to capture is the server space. As some people will be more than happy to tell you, moving from the embedded space to the enterprise class server space has involved some growing pains (and the occasional meme). Most of the bickering^Wdiscussion comes from the fact that the embedded world has different requirements than the server world. Trying to support all requirements in a single tree often means making a choice for one versus the other.

          [...]

          Fedora is a production system and it does need to be optimized. There’s been fantastic work recently to support more single board computers like the Raspberry Pi in Fedora. Thanks to single image efforts, the same kernel can boot on both a Raspberry Pi and an enterprise class ARM server. Booting doesn’t mean work well though. Single Board Computers can come with as little as 512MB of RAM. Enterprise servers have significantly more.

        • Factory 2, Sprint 14

          Hello all. Bi-weekly update from the Factory 2 team on our work here. We have three videos this sprint.

          Two are related to the module-build-service: both on submitting builds. We have some new client tooling to show which should make manual submission and monitoring of module-builds much simpler. The second is a demo of an early prototype of our continuous rebuild system.

        • Share Fedora: Encouraging new contributors

          The Fedora community is much more than just a distribution of Linux. We are a vibrant large community encompassing many different viewpoints, goals, and ideas.

          Opensource.com is running a blogging challenge to collect information about how communities function and grow. These conversations are very important to Fedora on a regular basis. By participating, you become part of the worldwide spread of open source and the ideas behind it.

        • Fedora Council FAD Report – 2017/2018 Initial Steps

          The Fedora Council met for an in-person FAD for three days from 26-28 March in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA. Almost the entire Council was able to attend. Josh Boyer, Brian Exelbierd, Robert Mayr, Matthew Miller, and Langdon White, were present, and unfortunately, Jan Kuřik and María Leandro could not make it. We chose Grand Rapids to accommodate one of the two members with travel challenges and to reduce overall travel costs for the rest of us.

        • Snap support lands in Fedora 24, 25 & 26

          As part as our mission to get snaps running everywhere, we are pleased to announce that support for snaps has now officially landed in Fedora, starting with Fedora 24 and up.

        • Snap Support Available On Fedora 24 And Newer

          While Unity 8 and Mir may be on their way out, Canonical continues backing Snappy and the involved developers have got Snap support integrated into Fedora 24 and newer.

          As of earlier this month, the snapd packages landed for Fedora 24/25/26. Canonical’s David Callé has now written a blog post about the Snappy state in Fedora.

        • It’s Official: You Can Now Install Snap Packages on Fedora Linux Distributions
        • It Looks like Netflix Doesn’t Support Custom User-Agents for Firefox on Linux

          Despite his efforts to contact the Netflix customer support and explain the issue, they appear to be clueless how to solve the problem. So after some more research, Jiri Eischmann discovered that Netflix doesn’t allow custom User-Agents on its video streaming platform on Linux, which means that not only Fedora users are affected but also those who use openSUSE, Debian, or even CentOS.

          Jiri Eischmann also discovered that Firefox 52 on Ubuntu was not blocked by Netflix, but some users in the comments said it didn’t work for them, so the only fix right now to this annoying issue is to not use a custom User-Agent for Firefox if you want to watch Netflix shows. Simply use an add-on that lets you easily change the User-Agent to only display Linux, not a specific distro to fix the problem. Does Netflix work well on your distro?

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Instant messaging service Wire open-sources its server code

    This is a good time for open-source communication systems.

    The decentralized, free software, Twitter-esque social network Mastodon seems to be doing rather well. And now Wire, the end-to-end encrypted instant messaging platform, is releasing the source code for its server.

    The source for the Wire client was already available. But now the company is releasing the server source code, as well—up on GitHub and licensed under the AGPL.

    This is astoundingly good news. As I’ve written about previously, Wire is a platform I’ve been quite happy with (I even interviewed the CTO of Wire). One of the downsides? The lack of publicly available source code for the server. That shortcoming is being remedied.

  • Why Slack is inappropriate for open source communications

    My complaint about the growing use of chat services like Slack, HipChat, and so on, for communication by open source projects is that these services are not open. As I see it there are two issues:

    Slack, et al, are paid services with closed memberships. Sure, there are lots of little apps running on Heroku dyno’s that automate the “send me an invite” process, but fundamentally these are closed systems.

    This means that the content inside those systems is closed. I cannot link to a discussion in a Slack channel in a tweet. I cannot refer to it in an issue report, and I cannot cite it in a presentation. Knowledge is silo’d to those who have the time and ability to participate in chat services in real time.
    Slack, et al, are based on synchronous communication, which discriminate against those who do not or can not take part of the conversation in real time. For example, real time chat discriminates against those who aren’t in the same time zone–you can’t participate fully in an open source project if all the discussion happens while you’re asleep.

    Even if you are in the same time zone, real time chat assumes a privilege that you have the spare time–or an employer who doesn’t mind you being constantly distracted–to be virtually present in a chat room. Online chat clients are resource hogs, and presume the availability of a fast computer and ample, always on, internet connection, again raising the bar for participation.

  • Google Brings SDN to the Public Internet

    Google unveiled to the outside world its peering edge architecture — Espresso.

    At the Open Networking Summit (ONS), Google Fellow Amin Vahdat said Espresso is the fourth pillar of Google’s software-defined networking (SDN) strategy. Its purpose is to bring SDN to the public Internet.

  • What to do when your open source hobby becomes a project

    Many software developers have their own side projects, which are often open source projects. When those open source hobbies grow too big, how do developers manage them?

    All open business and projects face this problem: If they grow too big, more members are necessary for carrying the collective load. Their strategies for scaling are important.

    One popular open source community recently faced this problem. And the way that community surmounted it teaches us something about the art of scaling an open organization.

  • What is the risk of using proprietary software for people who prefer not to?

    Jonas Öberg has recently blogged about Using Proprietary Software for Freedom. He argues that it can be acceptable to use proprietary software to further free and open source software ambitions if that is indeed the purpose. Jonas’ blog suggests that each time proprietary software is used, the relative risk and reward should be considered and there may be situations where the reward is big enough and the risk low enough that proprietary software can be used.

    [...]

    In our professional context, most software developers come across proprietary software every day in the networks operated by our employers and their clients. Sometimes we have the opportunity to influence the future of these systems. There are many cases where telling the client to go cold-turkey on their proprietary software would simply lead to the client choosing to get advice from somebody else. The free software engineer who looks at the situation strategically may find that it is possible to continue using the proprietary software as part of a staged migration, gradually helping the user to reduce their exposure over a period of months or even a few years. This may be one of the scenarios where Jonas is sanctioning the use of proprietary software.

  • Events

    • 5 More Key Takeaways From ONS

      The one major stroke in that direction was the merger of Open Orchestrator and ECOMP open source into ONAP, something its head honcho, Chris Rice of AT&T, attributes to Linux Foundation leadership and direction. There were also strong indications in the OPNFV Project Danube release of coordination among groups.

    • The Linux Foundation Announces Sessions and Speakers for Open Source Summit Japan 2017
    • Open Source Project Directors in Cloud, Blockchain, IoT, SDN to Speak at Open Source Summit in Japan

      Executive directors from top open source projects in cloud computing, blockchain, Internet of Things, and software-defined networking will keynote next month at Open Source Summit Japan, The Linux Foundation has announced. The full agenda, now available on the event website, also features a panel of Linux kernel developers and The Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin.

      LinuxCon, ContainerCon and CloudOpen have combined under one umbrella name in 2017 – Open Source Summit. More than 600 open source professionals, developers and operators will gather May 31-June 2 in Tokyo to collaborate, share information, and learn about the latest in open technologies, including Linux, containers, cloud computing and more.

    • The Linux Foundation Announces Agenda for Automotive Linux Summit 2017

      Automotive Linux Summit gathers together the most innovative minds from automotive expertise and open-source excellence to drive the future of embedded devices in the automotive arena

    • Open Source Days 2017 Impressions

      Open Source Days is an annual conference held in Copenhagen, this time held from the 17th March to the 18th March. Since my successful trip with members of Open Source Aalborg we are keeping a close eye on free software happening in and around Denmark. For all of us, this was the first time we went to the Open Source Days conference.

  • CMS

    • Free & Open source: Personalized Web Experience Management with Pimcore

      There is a huge variety of Content Management Systems (CMS) available in the market – all of which seem to have similar offerings that include an assortment of useful and effective features to enable content and asset management. With such similarities between systems, how does one go about choosing the right system? How is it possible to differentiate the robust and reliable solutions from the underperforming ones?

  • Pseudo-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

  • Openness/Sharing/Collaboration

    • Vinduino: An Open-Source, Affordable Water-Saving Technology

      Irrigation-management technologies have been around for some time, but only as proprietary systems, meaning that a farmer using such a system is locked into his supplier. Usually this means high cost, recurring fees, and use of older technology, since there’s no incentive for the supplier to innovate. Most commercially available systems are only economically feasible for large farms, leaving smaller growers without options to improve their water use.

    • Open Hardware/Modding

      • Celebrate Hardware Freedom Day on Saturday April 15, 2017

        Hardware Freedom Day is a yearly celebration of Open Hardware. Initiated in 2012 by the same organization behind Software Freedom Day it aims at educating the worldwide public about the benefits of using and promoting open hardware.

      • Open Source Adapted Bicycle Pedal Comes to the Rescue

        Smart engineering students at Brigham Young University have devised an open source solution that extends the joy of bicycle riding to some who otherwise would not experience that joy. Watch this heartwarming story in this short video.

  • Programming/Development

    • Python vs. R: The battle for data scientist mind share

      The boss’s boss looks out across the server farm and sees data—petabytes and petabytes of data. That leads to one conclusion: There must be a signal in that noise. There must be intelligent life in that numerical world—a strategy to monetize all those hard disks filling up with numbers.

      That job falls on your desk, and you must now find a way to poke around the digital rat’s nest and find a gem to hand the boss.

    • Python vs. Ruby: Which is best for web development?

      Python and Ruby are among some of the most popular programming languages for developing websites, web-based apps, and web services.

      In many ways, the two languages have a lot in common. Visually they are quite similar, and both provide programmers with high-level, object-oriented coding, an interactive shell, standard libraries, and persistence support. However, Python and Ruby are worlds apart in their approach to solving problems because their syntax and philosophies vary greatly, primarily because of their respective histories.

      Which one to implement for web development requires some thought because all languages have strengths and weaknesses and your decision will have consequences.

    • Weblate 2.13
    • Portable Computing Language (pocl) v0.14 released

      Pocl’s goal is to become a performance portable open source (MIT-licensed) implementation of the OpenCL standard. In addition to producing an easily portable open-source OpenCL implementation, another major goal of this project is improving performance portability of OpenCL programs with the kernel compiler and the task runtime, reducing the need for target-dependent manual optimizations.

Leftovers

  • Security

    • Unraveling the Lamberts Toolkit

      Yesterday, our colleagues from Symantec published their analysis of Longhorn, an advanced threat actor that can be easily compared with Regin, ProjectSauron, Equation or Duqu2 in terms of its complexity.

      Longhorn, which we internally refer to as “The Lamberts”, first came to the attention of the ITSec community in 2014, when our colleagues from FireEye discovered an attack using a zero day vulnerability (CVE-2014-4148). The attack leveraged malware we called ‘BlackLambert’, which was used to target a high profile organization in Europe.

      Since at least 2008, The Lamberts have used multiple sophisticated attack tools against high-profile victims. Their arsenal includes network-driven backdoors, several generations of modular backdoors, harvesting tools, and wipers. Versions for both Windows and OSX are known at this time, with the latest samples created in 2016.

    • New malware gives CCTV DVRs amnesia
    • Amnesia malware turns DVRs into botnet slaves

      According to a blog post from IT security company Palo Alto Networks, a new variant of the IoT/Linux botnet Tsunami, which it calls Amnesia, targets an unpatched remote code execution vulnerability that was publicly disclosed over a year ago in DVR devices manufactured by TVT Digital and branded by over 70 vendors worldwide.

    • Canadian Web Hosting Deploys Imunify360 to Protect and Secure Linux Servers
    • Simple Server Hardening, Part II

      In my last article, I talked about the classic, complicated approach to server hardening you typically will find in many hardening documents and countered it with some specific, simple hardening steps that are much more effective and take a only few minutes. While discussing how best to harden SSH and sudo can be useful, in a real infrastructure, you also have any number of other services you rely on and also want to harden.

      So instead of choosing specific databases, application servers or web servers, in this follow-up article, I’m going to extend the topic of simple hardening past specific services and talk about more general approaches to hardening that you can apply to software you already have running as well as to your infrastructure as a whole. I start with some general security best practices, then talk about some things to avoid and finally finish up with looking at some areas where sysadmin and security best practices combine.

    • Solaris admins! Look out – working remote root exploit leaked in Shadow Brokers dump

      Now that the sulky Shadow Brokers gang has leaked its archive of stolen NSA exploits, security experts are trawling Uncle Sam’s classified attack code – and the results aren’t good for anyone using Oracle’s Solaris.

      Matthew Hickey, cofounder of British security shop Hacker House, has been going through the dumped files, which once belonged to the spy agency’s Equation Group and are now handily mirrored on GitHub. Hickey today identified two key programs – EXTREMEPARR and EBBISLAND – that can escalate a logged-in user’s privileges to root, and obtain root access remotely over the network, on Solaris boxes running versions 6 to 10 on x86 and Sparc, and possibly also the latest build, version 11.

    • Security updates for Tuesday
    • Alleged Spam King Pyotr Levashov Arrested

      Levashov is currently listed as #7 in the the world’s Top 10 Worst Spammers list maintained by anti-spam group Spamhaus.

    • Oh my Microsoft Word: Dridex hackers exploit unpatched flaw

      Cybercrooks are actively exploiting an unpatched Microsoft Word vulnerability to distribute the Dridex banking trojan, claim researchers.

      Booby-trapped emails designed to spread the cyber-pathogen have been sent to hundreds of thousands of recipients across numerous organisations, according to email security firm Proofpoint.

      The switch to document exploits by the hackers represents a change of tactics by a group that previously leaned heavily on malicious macros to distribute their wares.

    • Critical Word 0-day is only 1 of 3 Microsoft bugs under attack

      A zero-day code-execution vulnerability in Microsoft Office is one of three critical flaws under active attack in the wild [...]

    • Cowardly Microsoft buries critical Hyper-V, WordPad, Office, Outlook, etc security patches in normal fixes

      Microsoft today buried among minor bug fixes patches for critical security flaws that can be exploited by attackers to hijack vulnerable computers.

      In a massive shakeup of its monthly Patch Tuesday updates, the Windows giant has done away with its easy-to-understand lists of security fixes published on TechNet – and instead scattered details of changes across a new portal: Microsoft’s Security Update Guide.

    • Over The Air: Exploiting Broadcom’s Wi-Fi Stack (Part 2)

      In this blog post we’ll continue our journey into gaining remote kernel code execution, by means of Wi-Fi communication alone. Having previously developed a remote code execution exploit giving us control over Broadcom’s Wi-Fi SoC, we are now left with the task of exploiting this vantage point in order to further elevate our privileges into the kernel.

  • Defence/Aggression

    • Sudanese official defends decision to have CIA office in Khartoum

      The leader of the ruling National Congress Party in Sudan, Rabie Abdelati, has defended his country’s decision to allow the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to open an office in the Sudanese capital Khartoum.

    • Cyber-arms dealers offer to sell surveillance weapons to undercover Al Jazeera reporters posing as reps of South Sudan and Iran

      Companies in the EU and China have been caught offering to commit fraud to launder sales of mass surveillance weapons to Al Jazeera reporters posing as representatives of autocratic regimes under sanction for gross human rights abuses; these weapons would allow their users to target and round up political dissidents for arbitrary detention, torture and murder.

    • Trump’s Decision to Attack Syria Increases the Risk of World War III

      Vast efforts to portray Donald Trump as Vladimir Putin’s flunky have given Trump huge incentives to prove otherwise. Last Thursday, he began the process in a big way by ordering a missile attack on Russia’s close ally Syria. In the aftermath of the attack, the cheerleading from U.S. mass media was close to unanimous, and the assault won lots of praise on Capitol Hill. Finally, the protracted and fervent depictions of Trump as a Kremlin tool were getting some tangible results.

      At this point, the anti-Russia bandwagon has gained so much momentum that a national frenzy is boosting the odds of unfathomable catastrophe. The world’s two nuclear superpowers are in confrontation mode.

      It’s urgent to tell ourselves and each other: Wake up!

    • Declassified 1986 CIA Report Suggests Longstanding Plans to Destabilize Syria

      In March 2017, Mintpress News reported on a declassified CIA report that exposes that, contrary to popular belief, the US government has had plans to initiate regime change in Syria as far back as the 1980s.

    • Neocons Have Trump on His Knees

      After slapping Donald Trump around for several months to make him surrender his hopes for a more cooperative relationship with Russia, the neocons and their liberal-interventionist allies are now telling the battered President what he must do next: escalate war in the Middle East and ratchet up tensions with nuclear-armed Russia.

    • How Media Bias Fuels Syrian Escalation

      The mainstream U.S. media now reports as “flat-fact” the Syrian government’s guilt in the April 4 chemical weapons incident, but the real facts are less clear and some point in the opposite direction, says Rick Sterling.

    • Borussia Dortmund attack as THREE BOMBS explode near team bus in Germany – player injured

      The German team confirmed one of its players has been injured following the explosions 10km from the Signal Iduna Park stadium in Dortmund, North-Rhine Westphalia in east Germany.

      The player is Spanish defender and father-of-one Marc Bartra, who has been taken to hospital after sustaining injuries to his hand and arm, the team added.

      He is thought to have suffered cuts to his hands from shattered glass after the bus’ windows splintered – despite the glass being bullet-proof.

      Two hours after the initial explosion a suspicious package was found at the team’s hotel, just before they were due to arrive back there.

  • Transparency/Investigative Reporting

    • Julian Assange Is A Political Prisoner Who Has Exposed Government Crimes And Atrocities

      Julian Assange is a political prisoner. He has never been charged with a crime. Everyone who recognizes his name should know this, and if they don’t it is only because the largest media outlets have misreported or not reported the basic facts of his detention. This in itself is a searing indictment of the media that Assange and WikiLeaks have struggled to reform. It also puts to shame all of the Western governments, political leaders, and journalists who claim to care about human rights and civil liberties but remain silent ― or worse ― about one of the world’s most famous prisoners of conscience.

    • Julian Assange: WikiLeaks has the same mission as The Post and the Times

      On his last night in office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a powerful farewell speech to the nation — words so important that he’d spent a year and a half preparing them. “Ike” famously warned the nation to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

      Much of Eisenhower’s speech could form part of the mission statement of WikiLeaks today. We publish truths regarding overreaches and abuses conducted in secret by the powerful.

      Our most recent disclosures describe the CIA’s multibillion-dollar cyberwarfare program, in which the agency created dangerous cyberweapons, targeted private companies’ consumer products and then lost control of its cyber-arsenal. Our source(s) said they hoped to initiate a principled public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife/Nature

    • Students and Locals Protest Against DAPL at Wells Fargo [iophk: “foolishly used Facebook”

      “The oil industry gets incredible subsidies, and people don’t realize that they don’t do all this and get rich on their own,” Olsen said. “The government is subsidizing the oil industry too, oil and gas, pipelines, all of that. Customers are paying for that. They’re not just doing it out of the goodness of their heart to keep fuel in our tanks so that we can drive our cars and maintain our way of life. They’re subsidized too.”

    • To save money, Kentucky Coal Museum turns to solar panels

      Museum’s 80 solar panels on the roof are expected to save approximately $8,000 per year.

  • Finance

    • Europe bans domestic roaming charges: Here’s why it’s a big deal

      In other words, where politicians and people have decided that Europe should behave like and feel like a single country with people going where they please, a few telco operators have been remarkably successful in preventing this in practice for half a billion people. You have not had freedom of movement without it hitting your wallet hard, and therefore not in practice.

    • Sir Tim Berners-Lee lays out nightmare scenario where AI runs the financial world

      “I talk about the horror scenario of going to a candidate’s webpage and depending on who you were you get a different message and that is just marketing 101 for the political websites out there. So we need to rethink the way we have built society on top of the web.”

    • The Financial Times: Uber is doomed

      “Costs are costs, even if you’re a monopoly” — so the fact that Uber loses (a lot) of money on every single ride won’t magically go away if the company manages to kill its competition by subsidizing riders with its investors’ money. Uber will need to find better economics somehow, and right now, that seems to involve two sleazy and improbable tactics:

      1. Tricking customers into carpools rather than solo rides, [...]

      2 Bullying legislatures into killing public transit [...]

    • McDonalds wants ‘fellow kids’ to apply for McJobs over Snapchat

      The whole thing feels like a gimmick – an awkward, insincere, clumsy gimmick at that. And given that sponsored Snapchat lenses are expensive to commission, I can’t help but feel the money McDonalds spent could be better used to, IDK, pay its employees a living wage?

  • AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Critical Media Literacy Education: The Antidote to ‘Fake’ News, Propaganda, and Censorship in a Post-Truth World

      Project Censored director, professor Mickey Huff, recently gave a keynote presentation for the 3rd Annual Social Justice Week events at Sonoma State University. His talk was on “Critical Media Literacy Education: The Antidote to ‘Fake’ News, Propaganda, and Censorship in a Post-Truth World.”

    • Myanmar’s unique challenges

      The NLD has begun tackling the hard challenges of reforming one of the poorest countries in the world. Inevitably, the miracle narrative of Daw Suu’s ascent from political prisoner to State Counsellor (a bespoke position that makes her de facto President) has come under strain. These challenges are uniquely complex. We can understand why by comparing Myanmar with the distilled experience of the fifty or so countries that have made their own democratic transition over the past forty years. While each country is different, all transitions resemble one another. By studying them we can draw wider conclusions about their characteristic paths, dynamics and outcomes, and the ways that specific national experiences vary.

    • Big Pharma Funds “Independent” Advocacy Groups Attacking Drug-Price Reduction Bill

      Advertisements from seemingly independent advocacy groups are swamping Beltway newspapers with dire warning that recent proposals to lower drug prices will lead to dangerous consequences. In the last week alone, the ads have appeared in the Washington Post, Washington Times, Roll Call, The Hill, and Politico.

      The groups placing the ads have no obvious connection to pharmaceutical companies. For instance, the American Conservative Union (ACU), one of the organizations taking out an ad, describes itself as devoted to promoting “liberty, personal responsibility, traditional values, and strong national defense.”

      But unbeknownst to readers, the organizations have undisclosed financial ties to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the umbrella lobbying group that represents the biggest names in the drug industry, including Merck, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Purdue Pharma, and Eli Lilly.

    • Terrorism Smear Campaign Against Democratic Contender for Congress Run By Saudi Lobbyist

      A Republican Super PAC has paid for a television ad attacking Democrat Jon Ossoff — one of the leading candidates in an April 18 special election to fill the House seat for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District — for producing video content for Al Jazeera.

      The ad assails Al Jazeera as a “mouthpiece for terrorists,” and features imagery of deceased al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, with the clear insinuation that Ossof’s past work for Al Jazeera puts him in league with terrorists.

      Ironically, the Super PAC, called the Congressional Leadership Fund, is chaired by former Minnesota Republican Sen. Norm Coleman — a registered lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, home of 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers and one of the countries most responsible for exporting extremism.

    • Sessions orders Justice Dept. to end forensic science commission, suspend review policy

      Attorney General Jeff Sessions will end a Justice Department partnership with independent scientists to raise forensic science standards and has suspended an expanded review of FBI testimony across several techniques that have come under question, saying a new strategy will be set by an in-house team of law enforcement advisers.

    • Attorney General Kills Off Study Of DOJ’s Highly-Flawed Forensic Practices And Evidence

      Trump’s DOJ — led by Jeff Sessions — is rolling the clock back… on everything. Sessions has problems with the country’s interest in decriminalizing personal marijuana use. Weed has been a big moneymaker for the FBI and DOJ, and no one likes losing paying customers — especially not the private prisons that bad drug laws have kept full of taxpayer-supported “guests.”

      He also wants to roll back the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division to the good old days. You know, before it actually existed and/or did anything about unconstitutional policing. Even though crime rates in most cities are still at historical lows, Trump and Sessions believe the country is under siege by violent criminals, who must be dealt with in the harshest, most expensive way.

      Now, there’s this: Spencer Hsu of the Washington Post reports the DOJ will be reversing course on the junk science it so often refers to as “forensic science.”

  • Censorship/Free Speech

    • ‘Fake news’ flags won’t get to the truth
    • Getting the real story: Censorship in the digital age

      Pictures are powerful. What we see (and what we don’t) shapes our worldview. So who’s controlling the filter? How do media outlets decide what to show, and what to blur out? And how do you know if what you’re seeing is real?

    • Twitter allegedly deleting negative tweets about United Airlines’ passenger abuse

      What is particularly baffling is that it seems some of the allegedly deleted tweets did not directly mention the incident with the forcibly removed passenger.

    • Sex and Sensibility: India’s Censor Board and Overreach

      The Central Board of Film Certification in India under is commonly referred to as the Censor Board. A quick glance at some of its heavily debated recent decisions will elucidate why. While primary role of the CBFC is to provide certification for different categories of films, it is also entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that films do transgress one of the express restrictions of free speech in India. This has meant that from time to time, the CBFC has withheld permission for the screening of films or requested specific cuts and changes to the story. More recently, this has become commonplace rather than the exception.

    • German Pirate Party Fears Potential for Censorship From Google Fact-Checker

      Google’s plan to apply an algorithmic fact-checking tool to its Google News service could lead to censorship, the German Pirate Party told Sputnik Deutschland.

      Its chairman Patrick Schiffer told Sputnik Deutschland that while the party welcomes the principle of Google’s fact check, there are concerns about the way in which this is being implemented.

  • Privacy/Surveillance

    • Shadow Brokers expose additional NSA cyber tools

      Despite claiming earlier this year that they were going silent, the Shadow Brokers hacking group that leaked cyber tools stolen from the US National Security Agency resurfaced on Saturday, publishing the password to an encrypted collection of files that appear to contain even more exploits and operational details.

    • Workplace Surveillance Is The New Office ‘Perk’

      And it’s about to get much worse.

      In January, new rules went into effect allowing third-party wellness companies to share much more medical data with employers. And a bill currently moving through Congress would make it legal for employers to force workers to share their entire DNA sequence, taking employee scrutiny to a previously-illegal level — while also allowing companies to punish workers who don’t comply.

    • Snowden Documents Reveal Scope of Secrets Exposed to China in 2001 Spy Plane Incident

      When China boldly seized a U.S. underwater drone in the South China Sea last December and initially refused to give it back, the incident ignited a weeklong political standoff and conjured memories of a similar event more than 15 years ago.

      In April 2001, just months before the 9/11 attacks gripped the nation, a U.S. Navy spy plane flying a routine reconnaissance mission over the South China Sea was struck by a People’s Liberation Army fighter jet that veered aggressively close. The mid-air collision killed the Chinese pilot, crippled the Navy plane, and forced it to make an emergency landing at a Chinese airfield, touching off a tense international showdown for nearly two weeks while China refused to release the two-dozen American crew members and damaged aircraft.

      The sea drone captured in December was a research vessel, not a spy craft, according to the Pentagon, so its seizure didn’t risk compromising secret military technology. That wasn’t the case with the spy plane, which carried a trove of surveillance equipment and classified signals intelligence data.

    • AT&T field trials open source white box switches [Ed: A lot of surveillance setups are running Free software, e.g. Red Hat and Fedora at NSA. Freedom in the software sense alone not is necessarily benign. Uses may vary.]

      AT&T has successfully completed a field trial of open source, multi-supplier white box switches, according to a recent blog on the company’s site. The trial, conducted March 28, tested implementation of the white box switch carrying customer traffic between Washington, DC, and San Francisco. The platforms provided telemetry into AT&T’s ECOMP platform for monitoring purposes.

    • DARPA to develop ‘semantic engine’ to mine open-source, multimedia data [Ed: Well, data-mining would sound OK if it wasn't for DARPA or PRISM companies involved].

      The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a programme to develop technologies capable of automatically aggregating and mapping pieces of information derived from multiple media sources into a common representation or storyline.

      From that storyline, the technology developed under the Active Interpretation of Disparate Alternatives (AIDA) programme should be capable of generating hypotheses about the “true nature and implications of events, situations, and trends of interest”, according to a DARPA announcement, which outlined that proposed research should enable “revolutionary advances in science, devices, or systems” and exclude “evolutionary improvements to the existing state of practice”.

    • National Security Agency of USA hacked Pakistani mobile networks: WikiLeaks

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) operators have hacked into Pakistani mobile networks and have been spying on hundreds of IP addresses in the country, WikiLeaks has claimed.

    • US’ NSA hacked Pakistani mobile networks: WikiLeaks

      islamabad, Apr 11 The US National Security Agency (NSA) operators have hacked into pakistani mobile networks and have been spying on hundreds of IP addresses in the country, WikiLeaks has claimed.

    • US National Security Agency spying on Pakistan’s mobile networks, says WikiLeaks
    • US National Security Agency hacked into Pakistan’s mobile networking system: Wikileaks
    • NSA hacked Pakistani mobile system: Wikileaks
    • US’ NSA spying on BJP: WikiLeaks
    • US National Security Agency spying on BJP, PPP: WikiLeaks
    • US agency hacked Pak cellular service provider
    • US’ National Security Agency hacked Pakistani mobile networks: WikiLeaks
    • NSA spied on Pakistani civil, military leadership: WikiLeaks
    • WikiLeaks reveals that NSA has been spying on Pakistan’s mobile networks
    • US Security Agency Hacked Pakistani Mobile Networks: WikiLeaks
    • Moderate French Presidential Candidate Suggests He May Pressure US Tech Companies Into Creating Encryption Backdoors

      France’s presidential election season has kicked in. The supposed “moderate” of the bunch — Emmanuel Macron — has managed to gain considerable support in the last several months. Some of this has sprung from our own recent election. Earlier this year, the candidate took digs at Trump’s anti-climate change stance, stating France would welcome dejected US scientists with open arms.

      He also said this, taking a shot at Trump’s planned border wall.

      [...]

      This sounds like the French counterpart to the “adult conversations” FBI Director James Comey wants to have with tech companies about encryption. Of course, in Comey’s case, the “conversation” doesn’t necessarily even have to include tech companies. He’s fine with legislation or All Writs Orders or whatever for the time being — anything that doesn’t involve actually speaking to anyone who understands encryption.

      It’s tougher to get a read on Macron’s desires and intentions. He hasn’t spent months hammering away this issue or claiming terrorists are staying ahead of law enforcement by using Whatsapp or iPhones or spiral-bound notebooks. But what he’s suggesting is rather breathtaking: an EU-wide undermining of encryption. If tech companies are offering encryption, they’re going to have craft backdoors or start holding onto users’ encryption keys. The other alternative would be to pull themselves out of the European market, which seems like the least likely route they will take.

    • Facebook has reached its Microsoft Bing moment, and history shows the results won’t be pretty [iophk: “bit of revisionism mixed in there”
  • Civil Rights/Policing

    • 2 women stabbed as crowd cheers, records with phones
    • What “Dawa” Is And Why It’s A Bigger Threat Than Islamic Terrorism

      Dawa “describes the ceaseless, world-wide ideological campaign waged by Islamists as a complement to jihad,” explains Varadarajan, per Hirsi Ali…

    • Hate Crime Law Results in Few Convictions and Lots of Disappointment

      Lance Reyna was assaulted in a school bathroom in 2010. Reyna — who is transgender and gay — was a student at Houston Community College when an attacker held a knife to his throat, called him a ‘queer’ in a falsetto voice, then kicked and beat him and left him on the bathroom floor.

      In Austin the following year, it didn’t take long for Akbar Amin-Akbari to sense that the man who climbed into his cab shortly after midnight was drunk and angry. But Amin-Akbari drove on, and minutes later, with the cab going 65 mph on I-35, the man suddenly grabbed him by the hair, yanking out a fistful and violently pulling his head toward the backseat. “I’m a white boy. I’m going to kill you sand nigger,” the passenger yelled.

      More recently, John Gaspari was walking home from a bar in Houston at around 3 a.m. on Valentine’s Day 2015. He was three blocks from home when a car suddenly swerved onto the sidewalk, trying to run him over. Three men jumped out of the car and shouted, “Get the fag!” They tackled, punched and kicked Gaspari. Then one of them pumped two bullets into him and left him unconscious on the side of the road.

    • Migrants from west Africa being ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’

      West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home.

      Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labour. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalised that people are being traded in public.

    • How Can Torture Still Not Be a Crime in Italy?

      How is it possible that in a western European country torture not only happens but isn’t even criminalized?

      Last Friday marked the 2nd anniversary of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruling in favour of Arnaldo Cestaro, one of the demonstrators who were brutally beaten by Italian police when they stormed the occupied Diaz-Pertini school during the 2001 G8 in Genoa. He was tortured, said the Court, and the Italian criminal system proved incapable both of preventing and of adequately punishing it.

    • Idaho Governor Says Cops Matter More Than The Public Or Its Representatives, Vetoes Forfeiture Reform Bill
  • Internet Policy/Net Neutrality

    • 70% Support Letting Cities Build Their Own Broadband Networks, So Why Are We Still Passing State Laws Banning It?

      For years we’ve noted how more than twenty states have passed laws — often quite literally written by ISP lobbyists — that prevent towns and cities from building their own broadband networks (either alone, or with a private partner). Even in instances where, as is often the case, the incumbent broadband provider refuses to upgrade them. ISP lobbyists (and the lawmakers that love them) usually try to defend these protectionist laws by first demonizing municipal broadband as some kind of vile socialist cabal, then pretending new state laws are necessary to protect local communities from themselves.

      In reality, municipal broadband is an organic, grassroots reaction to broadband market failure. And buying laws that restrict local communities’ rights to decide local infrastructure matters for themselves is little more than regulatory capture. Like net neutrality and privacy rights, municipal broadband actually has broad, bipartisan support — and most municipal broadband networks are built in Conservative markets with local voter support. But by framing the issue in a partisan way (government run amok!), ISP lobbyists have been able to sow dissent and stall progress that could challenge their status quo.

    • The FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality will also kill internet privacy

      But this plan will not only fail to provide effective broadband privacy protections, it will come at the cost of eliminating the FCC’s net neutrality rules that prohibit ISPs like Comcast and AT&T from picking winners and losers on the internet. And there’s a real chance the FTC actually won’t be able to regulate ISPs at all.

    • “Unenforceable”: How voluntary net neutrality lets ISPs call the shots

      The FCC net neutrality rules in place today also impose some limitations on zero-rating (i.e. data cap exemptions) and network interconnection payments, and they require ISPs to make more specific public disclosures about prices, fees, and data caps. Based on early descriptions of Pai’s plan, it doesn’t appear that the zero-rating, interconnection, and billing disclosure provisions would be included in ISPs’ promises.

  • DRM

    • Britons! Ask the W3C to protect disabled access, security research, archiving and innovation from DRM

      With two days to go until the close of the World Wide Web Consortium members’ poll on finalising DRM and publishing it as an official web standard, the UK Open Rights Group is asking Britons to write to the Consortium and its founder, Tim Berners-Lee, to advocate for a much-needed, modest compromise that would protect the open web from the world’s bizarre, awful, overreaching DRM laws.

      Around the world, DRM is protected by “anti-circumvention” rules that indiscriminately ban bypassing digital locks, even for legitimate purposes, such as adapting technology to help people with disabilities participate in the web.

    • Encrypted Media Extensions

      Since the beginning of the Web—the age of dial-up Internet connections—the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has kept the Web’s technical standards tuned in a careful balance that enables innovation while respecting users’ rights.

      On April 13th, that will change. User-hostile DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) technology will become an official part of the Web. Unless we can stop it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Dear CD Projekt Red: Please Stop Trying To Get Trademarks On The Common Name Of A Genre

        When it comes to bastions of hope in the video game industry on intellectual property matters, we’ve been happy to laud CD Projekt Red (CDPR) for getting most things right most of time. The company’s stance on keeping its games DRM-free while being immensely successful has been a breath of fresh air, while its tendency towards bucking the DLC trend in gaming by not nickel-and-diming its fanbase for every last little thing. These are generally good folks, in other words, which is why it’s a little disheartening to see how the company is handling the backlash over its attempt to trademark the term “Cyberpunk” in the EU.

    • Copyrights

      • Am I covered by that UK copyright exception? Here’s my checklist

        Determining whether a certain, unauthorised use of a work is shielded from liability by means of an exception is not an easy exercise. Things may get even more complicated if the applicable law is that of a country, eg the UK and all the other EU Member States, that does not have an open-ended fair use-style exception but rather requires one to, first, identify what exception might be applicable to the case at hand and, secondly, verify that all the relevant conditions for the application of that particular exception are satisfied.

      • MPA Gets Ireland To Crack Open The Site-Blocking Door It Plans To Bust Through

        Give an inch and they will take a mile, as the saying goes. This mantra applies quite nicely to the recent spate of site-blocking efforts that have taken place around the world. Once content owners, chiefly Hollywood and music groups based in America, manage to slightly open the door to having entire sites blocked by order of government, they then barge through and expand the scope of the site-blocking exponentially.

        And the groups doing this barging don’t even bother to hide their plans. In Ireland, one can see this in the recent news of the Motion Picture Association submitting an order to have several websites blocked by ISPs there.

03.23.17

22,000 Blog Posts

Posted in Site News at 10:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

My workstation these days
My workstation these days

Summary: A special number* is reached again, marking another milestone for the site

Later this week Techrights will have published 22,000 blog posts/articles. In less than 11 years that is!

We are grateful for the support not only from readers (whom we don’t rely on in any sense other than readership and spreading of the word) but also from sources. What makes the site valuable is the growing number of exclusive reports, which help shed light on previously-unknown information. Our access to a lot of EPO material is why we have been so focused on covering this institution and are likely to continue to do so in the near if not distant future.
______
* ISO 22000 certification for foods comes to mind.

03.21.17

Letter to Angela Merkel Expresses Concerns About Impact of EPO Scandals on Germany and Its Image

Posted in Site News at 2:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dr. Angela Merkel

Summary: Dr. Angela Merkel, arguably the most powerful woman in the world, is being warned about the consequences of Germany ignoring (and hence facilitating) the abuses of Benoît Battistelli

THREE days ago we published a copy of the letter to Merkel regarding the EPO scandals. SUEPO has just published an English translation of it. We are reproducing it below with added highlights.

IPSO
International and European Public
Services Organisation
Heinrich-Bingemer-Weg 15
60388 Frankfurt am Main

Office of the Federal Chancellor
Federal Chancellor
Angela Merkel
Federal Minister of Justice
Heiko Maas
Willy-Brandt-Strasse 1
10557 Berlin

27 February 2017

Rights of the Staff and Staff Representatives at the European Patent Office (EPO)

Dear Federal Chancellor,
Dear Minister,

As representatives of the “International and European Public Services Organisation” (IPSO), the staff union recognized by the European Central Bank (ECB) for ECB personnel, we are turning to you to express our extreme concern with regard to the developments at the EPO with its headquarters in Munich, and with regard to its management.

The EPO, with its core task of guaranteeing patent rights, does not itself appear to be in a position any longer to recognize and respect the perfectly valid rights of its staff and their duly appointed representatives.

There are many reports on the matter, in a wide range of media; as well as a documentary (http://www.br.de/br-fernsehen/sendungen/kontrovers/traumjob-albtraum-arbeit-belastung-story-100.html) by Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR) of 21 March 2016, there have been numerous articles in the national and international press (SZ, FAZ, die Welt, Le Monde, Mediapart, Libération, De Volkskrant, NRC, EI Mundo etc.) as well as countless contributions in blogs by specialists in the field of copyright (e.g. IPkat, Juve, WIPR, IAM). Prominent jurists, such as Prof. Dr. Siegfried Bross, have made strenuous appeals to the EPO to embark on a change of course.

Never before has the Management of the EPO been subjected to such a barrage of public criticism as under its current President, Mr. Benoît Battistelli. The reputation of the Office and of its host country have both likewise been tarnished by these events.

A good appreciation of the poisonous atmosphere at work was released by Politico(http://www.politico.eu/article/labor-relations-turn-toxic-in-the-european-patent-office/) in August 2015; since then, the situation has become even worse. In January 2016 Mr. Battistelli dismissed two union representatives and elected staff representatives in Munich. A third was fired on 4 November 2016 at The Hague. In all three cases, it is entirely justifiable to speak of a “witch hunt” and Kafkaesque proceedings, with gross abuses of the most fundamental legal principles for the protection of staff representatives. At the present time two further union and staff representatives are in the firing line. With the aim of de-escalation, in March 2016 the Administrative Council of the EPO approved a Resolution CA/26/16, in which Mr. Battistelli was called upon to review the existing rules and regulations with a view to achieving fair and equitable formulation and implementation. The Council urged Mr. Battistelli that until this had been achieved there should be no further investigations or disciplinary procedures initiated and pursued against members of staff and union representatives – an appeal which Mr. Batistelli has completely ignored.

For decades, Germany has been viewed as a fine example for the world with its well-functioning social model, a model which is based primarily on dialogue and negotiation, and specifically for the avoidance of inflammatory conflicts and power games. It is against this background that we call upon Germany, as an important EU Member State and host country for the EPO, at this time of direst crisis at the EPO since its creation, to take on a clear position in support and defence of the fundamental rights of the staff and their representatives. Sadly, it has been reported to us that the German representative on the Administrative Council of the EPO appears not only to have adopted a passive attitude, but actually to have repeatedly supported initiatives by Mr. Battistelli by providing further powers of authority, even though the existing rules have led to massive abuses on Mr. Battistelli’s part.

We are sure to be of one voice in our conviction that management practices such as fear, isolation, and revenge have no place in a democratic society, and especially not in a European and international institution such as the EPO. All the more important, then, that authoritarian, indeed dictatorial, attitudes, which we are experiencing at the present time at the EPO and from Mr. Battistelli, should not serve as a negative example for other European and international organizations; organizations for which, due to their functional independence, it is often difficult for staff and their representatives to demand their rights and to lay their grievances before the courts.

Mr. Battistelli’s term of office as President of the EPO still runs until 30 June 2018, provided that no successor has been found by then. Our concern is that Mr. Battistelli will leave no stone unturned in seeking to extend his period in office by means of political intrigues. Europe cannot afford such a scenario, particularly not in the current political situation. We therefore cannot stand idly by until Mr. Battistelli voluntarily takes his leave.

Please let us know what measures Germany has taken, and will be taking, to restore the rule of law, including the respecting of the rights of staff and staff representatives at the EPO, a European and international organization of which the Federal Republic of Germany is not only an important member, but also a host country.

With best regards
Johannes Priesemann
Carlos Bewies
Jörn Paulini
International and European Public Services Organisation
cc: USF, SUEPO

As far as we are aware, Angela Merkel’s government has done nothing since. Is passivity a form of complicity?

03.13.17

What Appears Like News Sites or Blogs About Patents and ‘IP’ Got Polluted by Lobbying That Peddles Corporate Agenda

Posted in Deception, Patents, Site News at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Also see: Independent and Untainted Web Sites About Patents Are Still Few and Rare

“The major media-particularly, the elite media that set the agenda that others generally follow-are corporations “selling” privileged audiences to other businesses. It would hardly come as a surprise if the picture of the world they present were to reflect the perspectives and interests of the sellers, the buyers, and the product. Concentration of ownership of the media is high and increasing. Furthermore, those who occupy managerial positions in the media, or gain status within them as commentators, belong to the same privileged elites, and might be expected to share the perceptions, aspirations, and attitudes of their associates, reflecting their own class interests as well. Journalists entering the system are unlikely to make their way unless they conform to these ideological pressures, generally by internalizing the values; it is not easy to say one thing and believe another, and those who fail to conform will tend to be weeded out by familiar mechanisms.”

Noam Chomsky

Summary: Another timely walkthrough (journey through the past week’s supposed news) which demonstrates how several self-acclaimed/self-proclaimed “news” sites and even “blogs” operate (which helps explain why they don’t cover EPO scandals among other inconvenient — to them at least — realities)

WE NOW know that Michelle Lee is definitely the Director of the USPTO (it's officially confirmed now), so sites like IAM and Watchtroll are obviously not happy (IAM is a special case, or a case apart, which we debunk regularly). They spent a lot of effort casting doubt, attacking Lee, and even promoting replacements to her (even though she had not been fired). We will never forget what they tried to accomplish; neither should Lee.

“Therein lies the power of lobbying.”Shedding of doubt and uncertainty where there was none to begin with is a classic lobbying tactic and even Joe Mullin fell for it. He asked “Who’s in charge?” even when we already knew it was Lee and those who cited Mullin said “a FOIA request which could have been fulfilled by answering the simple question “Who is the office’s acting director?” Instead, the patent office asked for a delay until March 10, citing a section of the law that allows for delay in “unusual circumstances.””

There was no legitimate basis for doubts about her place (secured by default) other than her face not yet showing up on the official site (after Trump’s inauguration, whereupon many other faces disappeared from the site too). She was still effective in her position and signed documents accordingly. There was nothing mysterious about it. There was no scandal.

“Watchtroll is a very malicious site.”Therein lies the power of lobbying. And lots of that lobbying, as even TechDirt pointed out at one point, could be traced back to Watchtroll — a site that attacked Lee so often that we’ve lost track of the number of times.

Watchtroll (a.k.a. “IP Watchdog”)

Watchtroll is a very malicious site. It not only promotes software patents; it promotes patent maximalism, litigation maximalism, and basically a whole lot of chaos. Watch this latest nonsense from Watchtroll. It’s just incredible! This headline and the entire premise of this Watchtroll ‘article’ is completely bunk (not just false), and this is the latest example of low-quality lobbying for software patents, composed by one whose qualification is just writing (not a technical person by any stretch of imagination). With all sorts of events and other peripheral activities, Watchtroll is more than just a blog now. It’s akin to a pressure/attack/front group. IBM seems eager to use these ‘services’, no matter how nefarious. It pays off to — or there’s plenty of money in — being malicious.

“IBM seems eager to use these ‘services’, no matter how nefarious.”To break down the latest software patents brainwash, it’s just some incoherent nonsense with absolutely no connection between one thing and another. The author was just picking something random from the news (with the buzzwords of the day, “AI”), then wrongly asserting that it shows a need for software patents, even if the UK-IPO does not grant software patents. Here is an except: “Of course, not every step the government can take is a positive one, especially if it’s a backwards step, and nowhere is this more painfully apparent than in the United States. At the same time that our own federal government is evincing a great deal of skepticism as to the patentability of subject matter important to the AI sector, namely software, other nations are moving ahead with plans to improve intellectual property protections for such innovations. For example, new patent examination guidelines set to go into effect in China during early April will increase patent eligibility for software and business method inventions.”

“It pays off to — or there’s plenty of money in — being malicious.”AI moves forward in spite of patents, not owing or thanks to them. But never mind all those pesky ‘facts’ and “so called judges”. What Watchtroll is after is just some “alternative facts” or gross misinterpretations. That’s just the usual from them (when they’re not busy attacking the Director of the USPTO, the Justices, various judges and also appeal boards whose work they don’t tolerate).

IP Watch

Watchtroll is actually a symptom of a much broader problem. A lot of so-called ‘news’ is not at all news but PR and lobbying. The other day at IP Watch, typically a good site, we saw this guest ‘article’ from “Content Manager at Morningside IP” (apparently that’s an actual job title). She wants us to think that the whole world is about patents (guess what “IP” stands for; not patents) and here is one portion of her “content”:

If you want to know where technology is headed, a great place to look is in a patent application database like the USPTO. One of the qualifications for getting a patent granted is “novelty,” which means new, similar innovations won’t appear anywhere else. Once enough data is collected from the database, it can be used to map out and predict unique advancements in specific areas of technology.

How many things are being developed outside or irrespective of patent offices? In the field of software almost everything! So this Content Manager would be better off looking at source code in sites such as Github, rather than take the risk of willful infringement (far higher damages if found guilty) that examination/surveying of granted patents would entail.

“Why do readers out there think there is barely any coverage of EPO scandals other than in Techrights?”We are very much saddened to see the state of so-called ‘IP’ blogs and several months ago we wrote a long rant about it. There are barely any sites at all countering that sort of nonsense; Groklaw no longer operates and few good sites like Against Monopoly seem to have gone defunct quite some time back.

Why do readers out there think there is barely any coverage of EPO scandals other than in Techrights? It just doesn’t suit their business model, it does not attract advertisers and they would rather reprint “guest” posts or “sponsored” articles. It’s a lot less risky, especially from a legal standpoint. There is no money in ideology, unlike PR/marketing/advertising.

Managing IP

Yesterday we showed how Managing IP had set up yet another -- far from the first -- lobbying opportunity for Team UPC (that’s big money right there, with visitors paying £995 + VAT to enter) and days ago the site wrote about designs cases (not just patents), taking a short break from supposed “endorsements” of law firms and people in “IP” (we have to wonder how they turn this “endorsement” system into money, and the same goes for IAM). There was plenty of that recently and we needn’t necessarily link (feed) to it!

“There is no money in ideology, unlike PR/marketing/advertising.”Managing IP also wrote about this Sprint verdict (gigantic $140m patent case), but the above author, Joe Mullin, did a far better job covering it. He is at least balanced. To quote: “Sprint has been filing patent lawsuits over VoIP for more than a decade now, and the company may have just scored its biggest payout yet. On Friday, a jury in Sprint’s home district of Kansas City said that Time Warner Cable, now part of Charter Communications, must pay $139.8 million (Verdict Form) for infringing several patents related to VoIP technology. The jury found that TWC’s infringement was willful, which means that the judge could increase the damage award up to three times its value.”

$139.8 million in one single case. Sites like IAM would likely hail/praise it as some sort of fantastic “success story” and proof of “innovation” or whatever, rather than what it really translates into (rich people getting a lot richer).

IP Kat

Even IP Kat, which we once respected, appears to have devolved into a part-time front group of Team UPC, Bristows in particular (even as recently as one week ago). It no longer covers EPO scandals and some people are not entirely tolerant of the explanations/excuses. To quote some comments, “This smacks Of a dishonourable Retreat,” the following poem said:

So.
Farewell then
Merpel.

You were
A great
Feline.

Though you
Did appreciate
An acrostic

This smacks
Of a dishonourable
Retreat

Strange
Frankly

EJ Bringbackalib.

Some people are so angry at IP Kat for letting EPO management (basically crooks) off the hook that the write a comment like this (not sufficiently grateful to Merpel for what she did do)

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.

Shame on you, Merpel. It’s impossible not to lose all respect.

“I feel as well betrayed to see a major help leaving us,” another person wrote, “while Eponia goes deeper into its Orwellian [edit] world…”

As EPO employee, I have mixed feelings, which cannot be understood by someone from outside I guess.
I am very thankful to The Kat for sharing well documented, precise news with a british humor. We found necessary that the outside world, and in particular the IP-world understands what the situation.
I feel as well betrayed to see a major help leaving us, while Eponia goes deeper into its orwelian world: cameras everywhere, spy softwares on our computers, a kafkaian investigation unit, directors going mad if the world “quality” is whispered, heavy recruitement despite a files shortage preparing a future all in “flexibility”, examiners working on short term contracts and distress in every corners. We are not allowed to speak.
It is not an article in one generalist newspaper per semester, which will help broadcasting the situation.
Dear Kat, I understand that you want to take some rest but WE NEED YOU.

“I cannot understand you stop covering the EPO news,” another person wrote. Are you a IP and European blog?”

Well, that’s self-censorship after intimidation (on the face of it). To quote the entire comment:

one of the commenters consider the examiners to dig their own grave. It is easy to say when you rest comfortably on your couch not knowing what it means to work in a toxic environment everyday year in year out. Even a first class IP blog like IPkat is giving up commenting the terrible situation of Eponia (pressure? threats?), how is staff supposed to have sufficient means to say no to the sick, delirious demands we get from the management? Staff is suffering and every day adds a little more, up to the day where one gets a serious illness, depression, burn out or in the worst cases commits suicide.
IPkat, I cannot understand you stop covering the EPO news. Are you a IP and European blog ? If so, not mentioning the EPO anymore simply means we are not doing your duty of informing about IP news.
Renaming your blog IPkat “passionate about IP (except EPO – too dangerous) ” would be more appropriate.

There are more comments to that effect, but it ought to suffice for now.

Patently-O

We used to believe, however briefly and perhaps naively, that Professor Dennis Crouch was reasonably balanced, but that has changed recently, and the last straw was reached with his anti-PTAB diatribe (negative posts in the face of improved patent quality). Earlier this month his blog wrote about CAFC as follows:

In a non-precedential opinion, the Federal Circuit has affirmed the district court’s confirmation of the arbitration award with the minor exception of interest calculation. Here, the arbitrator awards are powerful becaues they can only be overturned based upon quite “demanding standards” involving “manifestly disregard the law.” A portion of the award included what appears to be post-expiration royalties. However, the Federal Circuit held that the manifest-disregard standard is so high that even those damages cannot be vacated (one of the five patents has not yet expired).

Another new post by Dennis Crouch spoke of the same court’s history overruling lower courts (in one particular aspect), as they rightly should (including Alice these days):

This decision by Judge Moore recalls the Federal Circuit’s long history of rejecting district court claim constructions and also highlights Judge Moore’s formalistic approach to claim construction.

Now watch the blog referring as “reasonable” (as in RAND/FRAND) to payments of a ‘mere’ $30,000,000… for just two patents. To quote:

The Nebraska jury found Sprint liable for infringing Prism’s patents and awarded $30 million in reasonable-royalty damages. U.S. Patent Nos. 8,127,345 and 8,387,155.

Patents at $15 million apiece? Against just one single company? It doesn’t take a genius to see that something is seriously wrong here. How about the patent troll whom we wrote about last week, after he had made about $50 million from just one invalid patent?

“As is often the case in life, those who survive in the long run are those well funded (or greased up) by people who look to gain something from interjected bias and agenda, either lobbying, shameless self-promotion, self-censorship, or a wider combination of several/all those things.”I truly miss Groklaw myself; this is the one site about so-called ‘IP’ which I knew was written by a legal professional (paralegal) who in no way had a stake in any corporation covered, nor in advertisers. As is often the case in life, those who survive in the long run are those well funded (or greased up) by people who look to gain something from interjected bias and agenda, either lobbying, shameless self-promotion, self-censorship, or a wider combination of several/all those things. It’s a sordid world with sordid, submissive corporate media.

“If the media were honest, they would say, Look, here are the interests we represent and this is the framework within which we look at things. This is our set of beliefs and commitments. That’s what they would say, very much as their critics say. For example, I don’t try to hide my commitments, and the Washington Post and New York Times shouldn’t do it either. However, they must do it, because this mask of balance and objectivity is a crucial part of the propaganda function. In fact, they actually go beyond that. They try to present themselves as adversarial to power, as subversive, digging away at powerful institutions and undermining them. The academic profession plays along with this game.”

Noam Chomsky

03.11.17

Why Techrights is Nowadays Focused on the EPO and UPC (Unitary Patent)

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 7:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“People naively say to me, “If your program is innovative, then won’t you get the patent?” This question assumes that one product goes with one patent.” —Richard Stallman

Summary: Answering a commonly- and frequently-asked question, going along the lines of, “why is Techrights so eager to help EPO employees?” or “why is it so passionately against the UPC?”

A LOT can be said about the variety of topics we have dealt with over the years. There is an extensive record on the Web about it (nosy people can check our track record). I myself am a reasonably modest software developer, a proponent of Free/libre software, and various aspects that accompany that, e.g. privacy and autonomy. In order to operate freely and creatively (lawyers like to use buzzwords like “innovative”) developers require collaboration with peers and outsiders. We mix and match a lot of code and ensure that things rapidly improve, for collective benefit to society. I work a lot for the public sector in the UK, for example the NHS, the Ombudsman, and London’s Town Hall (GLA). I’d like to think of myself as one who works for society at large, not pursuing money but instead public services and ethics. I don’t think people out there can dispute that, as I never developed proprietary software and virtually everything that I use is Free/libre software. My wife and I contribute the little that we have to charities and we don’t make any money from our sites; we actually lose money, but it’s an idealogical endeavor. We generally promote greater collaboration among people, especially in the software sense.

“In order to operate freely and creatively (lawyers like to use buzzwords like “innovative”) developers require collaboration with peers and outsiders.”Right now we feel encouraged by the fact that the US is gradually burying software patents. It’s a much-welcomed (by developers) milestone. A decade ago it seemed unthinkable that the USPTO and US courts like the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) would demolish software patents. But as we shall show later in the weekend, that is just what is happening, still. At the same time, much to our regret, the EPO does the opposite and EPO management is lobbying very hard to expand both patent scope and the sovereignty of EPs (in the enforcement sense) to the whole of the EU. This would, if the UPC ever became a reality, mean that software patents too (these are constantly being granted these days, EPO insiders tell us) become applicable EU-wide.

A decade ago in the UK — up to around 2008 to be precise — Nokia or Symbian (before it was Nokia’s) fought for software patents in the UK (famous UK-IPO case which we covered many times before). The UPC would essentially mean British software patents from the back doors, putting at risk a lot of British software companies (there are plenty and they are small and typically vulnerable).

“The site is very specifically against software patents, and occasionally it also mentions ethical issues associated with patents on life or patents that limit humanity’s ability to save lives.”The other day we posted here a press release that we had co-authored with FFII (see FFII’s mirror and the original). We wish to warn about what UPC in the UK would entail — a subject we shall explore in greater depth later this weekend.

I was never trained or educated to understand patents (and software patents) but to code. I was never interested in patents, but I had to study these through extensive reading, over the past decade or more, out of necessity. A lot of software developers openly berate software patents (they just want copyright on their code), but are not so passionate or active about it until some patent troll hits them (sometimes they lose their job as a result).

There have been some malicious rumours about the motivations of Techrights, so let it be clarified that the site is not against patents. It never was. The site is very specifically against software patents, and occasionally it also mentions ethical issues associated with patents on life or patents that limit humanity’s ability to save lives.

“What we are hoping to accomplish is patent sanity, justice, and advancement of Europe’s interests.”The outline for weekend’s posts is based on our perceived urgency/priorities. We shall start by dealing with EPO abuses, then publish many articles on UPC ‘progress’ (lack thereof), then some unpleasant (to Battistelli et al) surprises, which we unfortunately have not had enough time to cover. We have literally dozens if not over a hundred of posts in the making, either as drafts or concepts (which we never got around to turning into drafts).

What we are hoping to accomplish is patent sanity, justice, and advancement of Europe’s interests. We are not trying to undermine anything but a self-serving element which is against democracy, against justice, and against patent sanity (typically patent maximalism for personal gain).

We are not the bad guys. We are only the “bad guys” to bad people.

03.02.17

Supplying Techrights With Leaked Material

Posted in Site News at 2:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

tl;dr We prefer not to know who is sending the material

What Was New York Times Reporter James Risen’s Seven-Year Legal Battle Really for?
Reference: What Was New York Times Reporter James Risen’s Seven-Year Legal Battle Really for?

Summary: An updated advice or guidance for sending documents and/or information to us without getting caught by prying eyes, not even if we are legally threatened by an out-of-control institution that bends the law

THE number of leaked documents that we have received from EPO insiders is very high and we prefer not to comment about the number of leakers/sources. Last year, upon request, we published some tips for submitting leaks to us.

Some people requested further clarifications and some people have suggested improvements to the article since it was first published, as better options became available (not that our advice was altogether bad, just suboptimal or deficient). “Please help,” one person wrote to us. “I saw your article “How to Securely Provide Techrights With Information, Documents”. Could you please clarify the following in a future article?”

“We never got caught publishing anything fake, which means we have a 100% accuracy record, as far as source material goes.”The main amendments suggested to us were the sorts of sites/services to use for increased anonymity/privacy/security. These sites, as one might expect, are not well known or even mainstream. Some people wish to send images, some send plain text, some send rich text, and some send documents, scans of documents, or photographs (if not screenshots) of documents. We generally think that photographs of things are less likely to leave legible watermarks (like kerning signatures) and the same goes for plain text, so it’s probably safe to reduce everything down to images and plain text. We prefer not to know where these are coming from, even if we can manually remove personally-identifying metadata. It makes both us and our sources safer when neither side has identity information. Put bluntly, we typically prefer not to know where material comes from; we just need to know that it’s verifiable (given context and/or accompanying explanation) and then we can cross-check to ensure its authenticity. We never got caught publishing anything fake, which means we have a 100% accuracy record, as far as source material goes. We do check everything carefully before publication. We don’t wish to get tricked into publishing fake material as that would be self-discrediting and it’s a commonly-used tactic for muddying the water or poisoning the well.

“I am unsure whether it is safe to send you a .pdf document,” a person told us anonymously, “including text only.”

We don’t really need the original PDFs if there is enough to verify by; PDFs are of a clunky format type that tends to migrate with it all sorts of signatures and it drips metadata. If people can upload an image somewhere on the Web (preferably not through service such as Google’s, as they have a poor record on anonymity) and then send us a link, that ought to be enough. Remailers can be used to send us anonymous messages (or links) and we can typically cope with the input without having to even reply to the source.

“We do check everything carefully before publication.”“Anonmgur does no longer exist,” we were told, “but Anonmgur now refers to anonimag.es as an alternative. I’ve tried anonimag.es, several times, but it does not work properly.”

We got into some discussions last year about which image and text ‘bins’ are best or safest for preserving anonymity (even at the face of legal threats, which are rendered useless if logs are purged permanently). If we recommend one particular service (there are many), it will enable the surveillance lackeys at EPO to latch onto particular domains, so we prefer not to suggest just one particular service. Diversity breeds safety here.

“Thanks for updating or amending your article “How to Securely Provide Techrights With Information, Documents” so that thing become clearer for me and others,” we were told, but we decided to lay things out again, rather than modify the previous article (we rarely edit old articles, except just hours after publication).

“If we recommend one particular service (there are many), it will enable the surveillance lackeys at EPO to latch onto particular domains, so we prefer not to suggest just one particular service.”To date, the most damaging EPO leak was probably this one. It generated a lot of media coverage and caused a great stir among EPO stakeholders, who rightly felt like they had been discriminated against.

Today or last night Research and Markets published details about an upcoming one-day seminar with tips for EPO applications and another for advanced drafting. We could not help joking about it because in today’s EPO it seems like anyone can just pay under the table or lobby for preferential treatment. We are certain that many examiners have come across examples of that and we hope for more leaks to that effect.

“Like any publication out there, we strive to have impact, as do our sources.”Regarding the timing of disclosure, it’s not always immediate (upon receiving material) because we need to verify authenticity, we need to wait for relevant development/news, and sometimes there are two connected stories that we investigate at the same time and they can be fused together. Like any publication out there, we strive to have impact, as do our sources. So if we don’t release something promptly, then there is probably a reason behind it. We rarely post teasers (quite rarely we do, for a change) because the element of surprise enables us to catch the EPO’s management, for example, unprepared and unable to properly respond, distract, or undermine publication (as attempted in the past).

01.02.17

365 Days Later, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas Remains Silent and Thus Complicit in EPO Abuses on German Soil

Posted in Site News at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

How appt [sic]…

Heiko Maas

Summary: The utter lack of participation, involvement or even intervention by German authorities serve to confirm that the government of Germany is very much complicit in the EPO’s abuses, by refusing to do anything to stop them

January 3rd (tomorrow) marks 365 days since the letter below (due to leap year) and we are hardly surprised that Heiko Maas, a rather controversial German Justice Minister (for various reasons well beyond and outside the realm of patents), is as useless as a brick. He seems to be perfectly fine with serious abuses happening in Germany, perhaps because his political party has some higher agenda or something at stake here.

We previously wrote about serious if not severe dysfunctions in the the EPO’s justice system (so-called 'disciplinary procedures'), which are akin to the Stasi (or “gestapo” as a Dutch politician called it, as it’s also akin to a "reign of terror" in his own words).

The following is text from Minister of State Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, who was mentioned before as he had been in touch with other politicians whom Dr. Elizabeth Hardon decided to approach. In the following letter, Heiko 'don't see, don't speak, don't listen' Maas is mentioned as well (emphasis below). The letter is dated January 4th, but the discussion with Maas predates Christmas by exactly one week. To quote:

Bavarian State Minister of Justice – 80097 Munich

Dr. Elizabeth Hardon
An der Hauptfeuerwache 4
80331 Munich

Your Ref., your communication of
su15109ml – 0.4.2 of 7.12.2015

Please quote in reply
Our Ref., our communication of
D5 – 3620 E – I – 13807/2015

Date
4 January 2016

Demonstration by the Staff Union of the European Patent Office (SUEPO) on 10 December 2015 before the Palace of Justice

Dear Dr. Hardon,

Many thanks for your letter in reference, in which you provided further details with regard to the background to the SUEPO demonstration on 10 December in front of the Munich Palace of Justice. I can readily empathise with the burden being placed on you and your colleagues by the situation at
the European Patent Office which you describe. I must however ask for your understanding inasmuch as I am unable to voice an opinion in these matters, given that the Bavarian State Ministry and the Free State of Bavaria have no jurisdiction in this instance. As you are aware, the European Patent
Office (EPO) is an international organization with its own constitutional legal framework. Germany is only one of 38 contracting states, and is represented in the administrative bodies of the EPO solely by the Federal Republic.

On 8 October 2015 the Federal Government stated, in a reply to the written question submitted by a Bundestag deputy (BT-Drs 18/6301 (new), p. 23 f.), that it viewed a good working atmosphere at the European Patent Office as a very important concern. In order to improve the situation, in particular,
the climate with regard to discussion and negotiation, the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) is said to have instigated a revival of the social dialogue in the Administrative Council of the EPO, and the Ministry appears to be actively concerned in improving the situation.

In the context of a discussion with the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection, Mr. Heiko Maas, on 18 December 2015, I expressly raised the issues concerned. The Federal Minister of Justice has given his assurance that he will also be engaging with the issues which you are currently raising.

Best regards
Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback, MdL

Where is Maas? He has done absolutely nothing (zilch, nada) about the EPO scandals, which damages not just Germany’s reputation on matter such as justice within Germany but in the whole of Europe (as the vast majority of EPO employees are not German). A retired German judge has already compared this kind of attitude towards the EPO to that of the US government in relation to Guantánamo Bay.

For completeness, the letter in German (original) is shown below.

Prof. Dr. Winfried Bausback letter

12.31.16

2016 in Review and Plans for 2017

Posted in Site News at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A look back and a quick look at the road ahead

Summary: A look back and a quick look at the road ahead, as 2016 comes to an end

TECHRIGHTS turned 10 earlier this year (only to experience DDOS attack on the day, so planned celebrations got delayed). It also reached a milestone of 20,000 blog posts back in February.

“Nokia, being a European company, represents the growing threat of patent trolls in Europe — a threat which the UPC threatened to make ever more real and concrete.”Aside from that, in 2016 we got the EPO‘s management on the defensive. They are losing the battle (Brexit pretty much axed the UPC’s prospects, too) and in 2017 we hope to get the EPO (the one people respected) back on track.

Joe Mullin, a good journalist who has been writing a lot about patent trolls for nearly a decade, has just listed “most dramatic patent and copyright cases of 2016″, ending the list with the news that came in just before Christmas. He writes that “Nokia has backed out of the smartphone business, but is still licensing its patents, so the two companies are back at war. Nokia has sued Apple over patents in 11 different countries. Meanwhile, Apple has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Nokia, accusing the Finnish firm of working together with “patent-assertion entities”—a.k.a. patent trolls—to “maximize the royalties that can be extracted from product companies.””

“Combative attitude against us, including routine DDOS attacks, certainly toughened us and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to get truth out.”Nokia, being a European company, represents the growing threat of patent trolls in Europe — a threat which the UPC threatened to make ever more real and concrete.

In 2017 we intend to continue to write about the EPO, highlight the woes associated with patent trolls, combat software patents, and highlight patent attacks on Free/Open Source software. 2017 will be a continuation of this past year. We intend to leak more and to escalate the tone where necessary. Combative attitude against us, including routine DDOS attacks, certainly toughened us and we are prepared to do whatever it takes to get truth out.

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