Peru — a top cocaine-producing nation — joined the ranks of world governments that have added commercial spyware to their arsenals. The purchase from Israeli-American company Verint Systems, chronicled in documents obtained by The Associated Press, offers a rare, behind-the-scenes look into how easy it is for a country to purchase and install off-the-shelf surveillance equipment. The software allows governments to intercept voice calls, text messages and emails.
Another week, and more concerns about the Italian banking system. A reminder: Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), the world’s oldest bank founded in 1472, has an estimated $55 billion in bad loans on its books and is expected to be among the worst performers in European banking stress tests next week. Shares in the 544-year old bank, the third-largest in Italy by assets, are trading at 8% of book value. Italian officials have been pushing for government assistance to help bail out the bank, but E.U. banking rules require private investors to be wiped out first before there is public assistance.
Stephen E. Arnold: Pirate Libraries Challenge Elsevier and Thomson Reuters to Liberate Knowledge for Destitute Scholars
They are called “pirate libraries,” but one would be better-served envisioning Robin Hood than Blackbeard. Atlas Obscura takes a look at these floaters of scientific-journal copyrights in, “The Rise of Pirate Libraries.” These are not physical libraries, but virtual ones, where researchers and other curious folks can study articles otherwise accessible only through expensive scientific journal paywalls. Reporter Sarah Laskow writes:
“The creators of these repositories are a small group who try to keep a low profile, since distributing copyrighted material in this way is illegal. Many of them are academics. The largest pirate libraries have come from Russia’s cultural orbit, but the documents they collect are used by people around the world, in countries both wealthy and poor. Pirate libraries have become so popular that in 2015, Elsevier, one of the largest academic publishers in America, went to court to try to shut down two of the most popular, Sci-Hub and Library Genesis.