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Protesters take their '.org' sale criticism offline

Protesters take their '.org' sale criticism offline

Internet activists hit the streets to protest the .org registry takeover by private equity outside of ICANN's LA offices. Internet activists hit the streets to protest the .org registry takeover by private equity outside of ICANN’s LA offices.

Image: Andrew Cowie/AFP/GettyImages

A group of protesters took their disapproval of the sale of the .org domain registry to the streets.

On Friday, around two dozen people rallied outside of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) offices in Los Angeles to protest the sale of the .org registry to private equity firm, Ethos Capital. 

Protesters held signs saying “Save Dot Org” and brought with them a petition with 35,000 signatures asking ICANN, the nonprofit which basically sets policy and maintains the internet’s domain name system, to block the sale. More than 700 organizations, from Greenpeace to Girl Scouts of the USA, backed the petition.

ICANN originally stated that the organization was powerless to intercede in the sale of the .org registry but has since changed its tune. 

According to Amy Sample Ward, the CEO of NTEN, a nonprofit for nonprofit professionals, ICANN did not have a “coherent” response to the planned protest and initially tried to shut it down. The attempt was unsuccessful. Eventually, a board member came down to talk with the protesters and accept their petition.

Ward said that ICANN Board Chairman Maarten Botterman relayed to her that the board “does see this as an important issue, they don’t want the .org domain to be ruined, and that they are taking this seriously.”

The sale of the .org registry to private equity has many nonprofit organizations worried. Public Interest Registry (PIR), run by the nonprofit Internet Society, has long overseen the .org domain extension. However, shortly before the sale, ICANN removed specific terms, such as price caps from its new contract with PIR to manage the .org registry. 

Critics of the deal believe Ethos Capital will take advantage of the price cap removal and raise prices of .org domain registrations and and renewals in order to recoup the $1.135 billion it paid to acquire the registry.

It remains to be seen if ICANN will take action to halt the sale of the .org registry.

The Witcher soundtrack now available on Spotify and Apple Music

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If you have been enjoying the first season of The Witcher on Netflix you may be interested to know that The Witcher soundtrack volume 1 will be available from tomorrow January 24th on Spotify and Apple Music. You can now listen to “Toss A Coin To Your Witcher” sung by the show’s bard Jaskier at your leisure, with the rest of the Witcher soundtrack available from tomorrow.

Netflix is also this week announced it is creating a Witcher anime movie which will be premiering sometime later this year, and will help pass the time before The Witcher S2 arrives.

If you have not played the games, read the books or seen the hugely popular Netflix TV series, The Witcher takes the form of a fantasy series written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. Revolving around the

France improves stock options policies for startup employees

France improves stock options policies for startup employees

A couple of weeks ago, France’s digital minister Cédric O announced some changes when it comes to stock options in France. President Emmanuel Macron is going to talk about the new policy today ahead of the World Economic Forum.

While I don’t want to be too technical, here’s a quick overview of the changes.

First, the price of stock options (also known as BSPCE in France) won’t be based on the same VC-determined valuation. Let’s take an example — a VC fund invests in a Series A round, valuing the company at €12 million.

If you join the company after, you can get stock options based on a lower valuation, which increases the chances of higher returns. Going forward, there will be a different valuation for employees getting stock options.

Second, if you work for a foreign startup but you’re based in France, you couldn’t receive stock options. For instance, if you’re a Citymapper employee — a startup that is headquartered in London — based out of the Paris office, you could forget about stock options. Employees based in France can now receive stock options even if the company isn’t incorporated in France.

Third, the French Tech Visa now also works for foreign companies with an office in Paris. If you work for Berlin-based N26 and you want to hire a great Brazilian data scientist in your Paris office, you can now go through the fast-track visa process for startup employees.

Last year, VC firm Index Ventures coordinated an effort to overhaul stock option policies across Europe by lobbying policymakers. Hundreds of tech CEOs have signed the ‘Not Optional’ letter since then.

According to Index Ventures, Germany, Spain and Belgium are the lowest-ranked European countries when it comes to the regulatory framework around stock options.

Microsoft To Fix Internet Explorer Bug Actively Used By Hackers

Microsoft To Fix Internet Explorer Bug Actively Used By Hackers

Users may have moved past Internet Explorer onto newer alternatives, but hackers still think they can get something out of the old browser. US-CERT and Microsoft have put out security advisories about an Internet Explorer bug that’s being used by hackers in the wild.

It’s a memory corruption bug that exists in the way IE’s scripting engine handles memory and could allow a remote attacker to run arbitrary code on the target machine.

The job of the scripting engine is to handle the execution of VBScript and Jscript. Once on the machine, the hacker gets the same privileges as the current user. So, if the user is running an Administrator account, the hacker gets the power to install/uninstall apps.

CERT advisory warns that any application that can embed IE or the affected scripting engine can be used as an attack vector. Thus, a malicious actor can compromise devices by making the user open a specially crafted website that supports the embedded script engine content.

This comes after the security firm Qihoo 360 tweeted about an IE but deleted it later on. Apparently, Microsft’s advisory credits a researcher from the firm under the acknowledgments.

Microsoft has identified the memory corruption vulnerability as CVE-2020-0674 and said that it’s “aware of limited targeted attacks” being performed.

Right now, there is no security patch to fix the flaw, but if necessary, Microsoft says a possible workaround is to restrict access to the jscript.dll library (a defunct Jscript version released in 2009). However, the said bug doesn’t affect the newer jscript9.dll library that’s used by default in IE 11, IE10, and IE9.

The list of vulnerable systems includes all supported Windows versions, and also Windows 7 for which the extended support ended recently. It’s interesting to note that Microsoft’s advisory page lists a security patch for Windows 7 as well. Let’s wait to see whether the company delivers it or not.

While the company is working on a fix but it’s certainly not on the priority list. One shouldn’t expect it to arrive before the next Patch Tuesday update, which would be released on February 11.