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US senators concerned with surveillance bill 'loophole' that could lead to warrantless email and phone tracking

US senators concerned with surveillance bill 'loophole' that could lead to warrantless email and phone tracking

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Last month, a panel of US Senators voted to extend a controversial law that allows the government to monitor US-bound emails or phone calls of foreign citizens as a terrorism prevention tactic.

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SF security camera privacy stock 1024

Last month, a panel of US Senators voted to extend a controversial law that allows the government to monitor US-bound emails or phone calls of foreign citizens as a terrorism prevention tactic. The bill, which was enacted in 2008 and set to expire at the end of this year, was approved by the senate panel by a vote of 13 to two, with the extension planned to last until June of 2017. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) were the lone holdouts due to the potential for civil liberty violations, and a recently-released report backs their opinion. In it, the senators note that they were told back in July of 2011 that "it is not reasonably possible to identify the number of people located in the United States whose communications may have been reviewed" under this act.

Due to this lack of clarity, Senators Wyden and Udall said they were "particularly concerned about a loophole in the law that could allow the government to effectively conduct warrantless searches for Americans' communications." The senators went on to say that "since we do not know how many Americans have had their phone calls and emails collected under this law, we believe that it is particularly important to have strong rules in place to protect the privacy of these Americans."

During the process of reviewing the bill's extension, the senators proposed an amendment that would required an estimate of how many Americans have had their communications collected, but that was voted down by the panel. However, Senators Wyden and Udall have pledged to "continue our efforts to obtain this information." The senators also attempted to introduce an amendment that would prohibit "searching through communications collected...in an effort to find a particular American's communications," but that failed to pass as well. Given the potential for US citizens to have their communications monitored without a warrant, this seems like a pretty major flaw in the bill — we're hoping these senators are able to help enact some change that offers citizens a little more protection.

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Andrew J. Hawkins38 minutes ago
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


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Elizabeth LopattoTwo hours ago
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Jay Peters4:28 PM UTC
Doing more with less (extravagant holiday parties).

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In the all-hands, Google’s head of finance also asked staff to try not to go “over the top” for holiday parties.


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Elizabeth Lopatto4:21 PM UTC
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James Vincent2:50 PM UTC
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Need to fill your video game, VR world, or project render with 3D chaff? Nvidia’s latest AI model could help. Trained on 2D images, it can churn out customizable 3D objects ready to import and tweak.

The model seems rudimentary (the renders aren’t amazing quality and seem limited in their variety), but generative AI models like this are only going to improve, speeding up work for all sorts of creative types.


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Richard Lawler1:02 PM UTC
Green light.

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Otherwise, we’re preparing for Netflix’s Tudum event this weekend and slapping Dynamic Island onto Android phones.


The Apple Watch Ultra on a woman’s wrist
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Jess Weatherbed12:31 PM UTC
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Thomas Ricker11:00 AM UTC
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Here’s Allison’s take on Sony’s continuous-zoom lens when she tested a prototype Xperia 1 IV back in May: 

Sony put a good point-and-shoot zoom in a smartphone. That’s an impressive feat. In practical use, it’s a bit less impressive. It’s essentially two lenses that serve the same function: portrait photography. The fact that there’s optical zoom connecting them doesn’t make them much more versatile.

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Corin Faife10:44 AM UTC
If God sees everything, so do these apps.

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James Vincent8:41 AM UTC
Shutterstock punts on AI-generated content.

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Thomas Ricker6:58 AM UTC
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Richard Lawler12:25 AM UTC
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I had little interest in Apple’s Dynamic Island, but once a developer built their spin on the idea for Android, I had to give it a try.

Surprisingly, I’ve found I actually like it, and while dynamicSpot isn’t as well-integrated as Apple’s version, it makes up for it with customization. Nilay’s iPhone 14 Pro review asked Apple to reverse the long-press to expand vs. tap to enter an app setup. In dynamicSpot, you can do that with a toggle (if you pay $5).


DynamicSpot app on Android shown expanding music player, in the style of Apple’s Dynamic Island in iOS 16.
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Image: Richard Lawler
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Richard LawlerSep 22
TikTok politics.

Ahead of the midterm elections, TikTok made big changes to its rules for politicians and political fundraising on the platform, as Makena Kelly explains... on TikTok.


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Richard LawlerSep 22
The Twitter employee who testified about Trump and the January 6th attack has come forward.

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