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Chevrolet To Offer Unlimited Data Plan With Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 10:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-relief department:
Chevrolet has become the first carmaker to offer an unlimited data plan with its cars. From a report on BBC: The deal, for a 4G LTE data plan, applies to cars sold in the US from 3 March and will cost $20 a month. It is being offered with the help of US carrier OnStar and will see vehicles fitted with a wi-fi hotspot that connects to the web via LTE. Chevrolet said it was offering the deal because in-car data use had grown so fast. Figures gathered by Chevrolet suggest the amount of data used via wi-fi in its cars jumped by 200% last year. In 2016, it said, Chevrolet in-car hotspots had handled about four million gigabytes of data. The LTE-based hotspots are available across the entire range of vehicles made by Chevrolet.

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'Robots Won't Just Take Our Jobs -- They'll Make the Rich Even Richer'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 08:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's storm-is-coming department:
Robotics and artificial intelligence will continue to improve -- but without political change such as a tax, the outcome will range from bad to apocalyptic, writes technology and politics journalist Ben Tarnoff, citing experts and studies, for The Guardian. From the article, shared by six anonymous readers: Despite a steady stream of alarming headlines about clever computers gobbling up our jobs, the economic data suggests that automation isn't happening on a large scale. The bad news is that if it does, it will produce a level of inequality that will make present-day America look like an egalitarian utopia by comparison. The real threat posed by robots isn't that they will become evil and kill us all, which is what keeps Elon Musk up at night -- it's that they will amplify economic disparities to such an extreme that life will become, quite literally, unlivable for the vast majority. A robot tax may or may not be a useful policy tool for averting this scenario. But it's a good starting point for an important conversation. Mass automation presents a serious political problem -- one that demands a serious political solution. Automation isn't new. In the late 16th century, an English inventor developed a knitting machine known as the stocking frame. By hand, workers averaged 100 stitches per minute; with the stocking frame, they averaged 1,000. This is the basic pattern, repeated through centuries: as technology improves, it reduces the amount of labor required to produce a certain number of goods. So far, however, this phenomenon hasn't produced extreme unemployment. That's because automation can create jobs as well as destroy them. What's different this time is the possibility that technology will become so sophisticated that there won't be anything left for humans to do. What if your ATM could not only give you a hundred bucks, but sell you an adjustable-rate mortgage?

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Fed Up Indian IT Professionals Want To Be Able To Leave Their Jobs Sooner
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 08:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's let-me-go department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: India's major IT firms have long required their employees to give a three-month, "non-negotiable" notice before leaving the company, but they could be soon forced to change that. Fed-up IT professionals from across India have reached out to the government, complaining that it is "unrealistic" for anyone to plan that far ahead. Over 28,000 professionals have signed a petition, addressed to the ministry of labor, to take immediate action on the matter. Part of the problem is that many companies are unwilling to wait for three months to have a person join them, many cited in the report say. Some of India's top IT firms including Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys, Tech Mahindra, HCL, Accenture and IBM impose the three-month notice period policy on their employees.

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Laid-Off IT Workers Worry US Is Losing Tech Jobs To Outsourcing
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 07:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
An anonymous reader shares a CIO article: Sixty-three-year-old Bob Zhang is worried about the future of tech jobs in the U.S. Will the high-paying positions be a thing of the past? Zhang thinks it's already starting to happen. He's one of 79 IT workers from the University of California, San Francisco, who've been laid off. Tuesday was their last day on the job. To replace them, the school is outsourcing some of their work to an Indian firm. "Usually, they outsource the low-paying jobs," he said at a gathering outside a school building. "But now they use H-1B (visa) and use foreign workers to replace the high-paying jobs. This trend is dangerous." It was a sentiment shared among the laid-off IT workers, who've tried to push the school to save their positions, to no avail. Now they fear other publicly-funded universities will take the same approach, and replace U.S. employees with foreign workers. "Once you send out the manufacturing jobs, once you send out the service jobs, once you send out the research jobs, what's left? There's nothing left," said Tan, who's 55 and now looking for a new job. Kurt Ho, another laid-off worker, said he was paid an annual salary of about US$110,000, but the new workers replacing his position will fraction that amount. "In two years, I could be at another company, and I could be facing the same thing," he said.

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A Norwegian Website Is Making Readers Pass a Quiz Before Commenting
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 07:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Joseph Lichterman, writing for Nieman Lab: Two weeks ago, NRKbeta, the tech vertical of the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK, published an explainer about a proposed new digital surveillance law in the country. Digital security is a controversial topic, and the conversation around security issues can become heated. But the conversation in the comments of the article was respectful and productive: Commenters shared links to books and other research, asked clarifying questions, and offered constructive feedback. The team at NRKbeta attributes the civil tenor of its comments to a feature it introduced last month. On some stories, potential commenters are now required to answer three basic multiple-choice questions about the article before they're allowed to post a comment. The goal is to ensure that the commenters have actually read the story before they discuss it.

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Netflix Uses AI in Its New Codec To Compress Video Scene By Scene
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 07:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
An anonymous reader shares a Quartz report: Annoying pauses in your streaming movies are going to become less common, thanks to a new trick Netflix is rolling out. It's using artificial intelligence techniques to analyze each shot in a video and compress it without affecting the image quality, thus reducing the amount of data it uses. The new encoding method is aimed at the growing contingent of viewers in emerging economies who watch video on phones and tablets. "We're allergic to rebuffering," said Todd Yellin, a vice president of innovation at Netflix. "No one wants to be interrupted in the middle of Bojack Horseman or Stranger Things." Yellin hopes the new system, called Dynamic Optimizer, will keep those Netflix binges free of interruption when it's introduced sometime in the next "couple of months." He was demonstrating the system's results at "Netflix House," a mansion in the hills overlooking Barcelona that the company has outfitted for the Mobile World Congress trade show. In one case, the image quality from a 555 kilobits per second (kbps) stream looked identical to one on a data link with half the bandwidth.

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Sorry, Apple, the Headphone Jack Isn't Going Anywhere
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 06:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's defy-space-and-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Rob Pegoraro via Yahoo Finance: Two things unite almost every phone on display here at Mobile World Congress 2017: Android and a headphone jack. Apple doesn't exhibit its wares at this trade show, so the domination of Google's operating system is predictable. But the headphone jack's persistence did not look so inevitable when Apple cut it from the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last September. Lenovo's Motorola subsidiary had already shipped a phone without a headphone hack, the Moto Z, and Apple's influence over the rest of the smartphone industry remains formidable -- indeed, within months, the Chinese firm LeEco had debuted a lineup of Android phones devoid of headphone jacks. As my colleague David Pogue predicted in a post approving Apple's move: "Other brands worldwide will be following suit." The hardware on display here at the world's largest mobile tech conference, though, suggests otherwise. Two days of walking around the show floor showed companies expressing a consistent unwillingness to abandon the humble headphone jack, even on models as thin as, or thinner than, the iPhone 7. The MWC floor revealed only one company willing to do away with the headphone jack: HTC. The Taiwan-based firm, which has struggled financially for years despite shipping such well-reviewed models as the HTC 10, used its exhibit to showcase the U Ultra and the U Play, which rely on their USB-C ports for audio output. Unlike, Apple, though, the company didn't make the move to save space, but rather to incorporate its "USonic" feature, which lets the phones' headphones calibrate themselves to your ears and provide noise cancellation.

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Google Chrome Users On Apple MacOS Get Enhanced Safe Browsing Protection
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 03:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-first department:
BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: As more and more consumers buy Mac computers, evildoers will have increased incentive to write malware for macOS. Luckily, users of Apple's operating system that choose to use Google Chrome for web surfing will soon be safer. You see, the search giant is improving its Safe Browsing initiative to better warn macOS users of malicious websites and attempts to alter browser settings. "As part of this next step towards reducing macOS-specific malware and unwanted software, Safe Browsing is focusing on two common abuses of browsing experiences: unwanted ad injection, and manipulation of Chrome user settings, specifically the start page, home page, and default search engine. Users deserve full control of their browsing experience and Unwanted Software Policy violations hurt that experience," says Google. The search giant further explains, "The recently released Chrome Settings API for Mac gives developers the tools to make sure users stay in control of their Chrome settings. From here on, the Settings Overrides API will be the only approved path for making changes to Chrome settings on Mac OSX, like it currently is on Windows. Also, developers should know that only extensions hosted in the Chrome Web Store are allowed to make changes to Chrome settings. Starting March 31 2017, Chrome and Safe Browsing will warn users about software that attempts to modify Chrome settings without using the API."

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Can Technology Prevent Cops From Forgetting To Turn On Their Body Cameras?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '17 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's forgot-my-keys department:
tedlistens writes from a report via Fast Company: Axon, Taser's growing police camera division, has announced a new wireless sensor for gun and Taser holsters that can detect when a weapon is drawn and automatically activate all nearby cameras. The sensor, Signal Sidearm, is part of a suite of products aimed at reducing the possibility that officers will fail to switch on their cameras during encounters with the public. It happens more than it should: Last year in Chicago, for instance, an officer apparently forgot to turn on his camera before fatally shooting and killing an unarmed 18-year-old named Paul O'Neal. Taser isn't alone in trying to address this and other technical and procedural issues with cameras, but reformers emphasize that just as body cameras won't solve problems with policing, new sensors won't prevent officers from failing to record. Fast Company adds: "Automatically-activated cameras won't be completely effective at providing oversight of police encounters: As happened when Baton Rouge police shot Alton Sterling last year, cameras can fall off during physical encounters, a problem that Taser has worked to address. They can also malfunction, or videos can be deleted. And civil liberties advocates complain that cameras are only as effective as the rules that guide their use: [...] the ACLU has complained that current city policy allowing officers to switch cameras off for privacy reasons gives police too much discretion over when to record. Other issues with cameras being resolved at the local level include the heavy costs of cloud video storage, and the question of whether officers are allowed to view their footage immediately after violent encounters -- a privilege not extended to the public."

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New Scientific Test Finds Up To 75 Liters of Urine In Public Pools
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what's-that-smell department:
Scientists have developed a test designed to estimate how much urine has been covertly added to a large volume of water. "The test works by measuring the concentration of an artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium (ACE), that is commonly found in processed food and passed through the body unaltered," reports The Guardian. The findings are published in the American Chemical Society journal. From the report: After tracking the levels of the sweetener in two public pools in Canada over a three-week period they calculated that swimmers had released 75 liters of urine -- enough to fill a medium-sized dustbin -- into a large pool (about 830,000 liters, one-third the size of an Olympic pool) and 30 liters into a second pool, around half the size of the first. Although the researchers were unable to confirm exactly what fraction of visitors were choosing to quietly relieve themselves in the water rather than making the shivery trip to the changing rooms, the results suggest that the urine content was being topped up several times each day. The findings make for unwelcome reading, but swimmers might find some comfort in the measurements from eight hot tubs, which were found to have far higher urine levels. One hotel Jacuzzi had more than three times the concentration of sweetener than in the worst swimming pool. In total, the team sampled 31 different pools and tubs in two Canadian cities and found ACE to be present in 100% of the samples, with concentrations up to 570 times the background level in tap water samples. They used the average ACE concentration in Canadian urine to convert their measurements into approximate volumes of urine.

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Marissa Mayer Is Giving Yahoo Employees Her Annual Bonus To Make Up For Massive Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-than-nothing department:
Following two separate security breaches revealed last year that compromised the personal information of more than 1.5 billion users, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced today via her Tumblr page that she will be redistributing her annual bonus and equity stock grant to Yahoo employees. The Verge reports: Relevant to Mayer's admission here, an independent committee Yahoo brought on to investigate the hacks found the company to be at fault for not sufficiently responding to the security incidents. "While significant additional security measures were implemented in response to those incidents, it appears certain senior executives did not properly comprehend or investigate, and therefore failed to act sufficiently upon, the full extent of knowledge known internally by the company's information security team," reads the committee's findings, which are contained in Yahoo's 10-K report for 2016. As a result of the hacks, Yahoo's top lawyer, Ron Bell, has been fired, Recode reported today. Mayer has accumulated about $162 million during the five years she's spent as the company's CEO in both salary and stock awards, according to CNN. She's also due about $55 million in severance if she decides to leave the company following its acquisition by Verizon. So it's safe to say her bonus would involve a hefty amount of money now going to Yahoo employees who have weathered the storm throughout Mayer's tumultuous tenure.

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Court Throws Out $533 Million Verdict Against Apple Over Data Storage Patent
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-the-window department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Mac: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit made a decision today to throw out the verdict of a two-year old legal case against Apple based on data storage patents. The original verdict reached by a Texas jury stuck Apple with $533 million in damages. Smartflash LLC targeted game developers who largely all settled out of court in 2014, but Apple defended its use of data storage management and payment processing technology in court. Reuters has more on the new developments: "The trial judge vacated the large damages award a few months after a Texas federal jury imposed it in February 2015, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said on Wednesday the judge should have ruled Smartflash's patents invalid and set aside the verdict entirely. A unanimous three-judge appeals panel said Smartflash's patents were too 'abstract' and did not go far enough in describing an actual invention to warrant protection."

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Yahoo Says Forged Cookie Attack Accessed About 32 Million Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gets-worse-before-it-gets-better department:
It looks like Yahoo has yet to reach its lowest point. The company revealed today via a regulatory filing that about 32 million user accounts were accessed by hackers in the past two years using forged cookies that allowed them to log into their accounts without passwords. According to Yahoo, the attack is likely connected to the "same state-sponsored actor believed to be responsible for the 2014 [breach]," which resulted in the theft of user information from 500 million user accounts. CNET reports: "Based on the investigation, we believe an unauthorized third party accessed the company's proprietary code to learn how to forge certain cookies," Yahoo said in its annual filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company went on to say that forged cookies have been invalidated to prevent further use on accounts. Yahoo revealed the attack in December but the news was largely overlooked because the company announced at the same time it had identified a separate security breach that took place in 2013 in which hackers stole information on 1 billion Yahoo accounts. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer also revealed today that she is giving yahoo employees her annual bonus to make up for the massive hacks.

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UK: New Drivers Caught Using a Phone Will Lose Their License
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eyes-on-the-road department:
Under new rules in England, Scotland and Wales, drivers caught using a phone within two years of passing their test will have their license revoked. BBC reports: Penalties for using a phone at the wheel double from March 1 to six points and a 200 British pound fine. New drivers who get six points or more must retake their practical and theory. More experienced drivers can be banned if they get 12 points in three years. Can I check social media or texts if I'm queuing in traffic or stopped at traffic lights? No -- a hand held phone cannot be used, even if stopped at lights. Texting and scrolling social media (even if the phone is mounted on a hands-free holder) is distracting and dangerous. It doesn't come under the handheld mobile phone law but the police may decide to charge you with a number of other offenses. Can I use my phone to listen to music, play podcasts or watch video clips? You can't watch video clips -- not even if your phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. You can use your phone to listen to music and podcasts but only if your phone is in a hands-free holder or connected by Bluetooth. However, just as you can be distracted by the noise of a car radio, if it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police. Can I use my phone's sat nav? Yes -- as long as the phone is mounted in a hands-free holder. If it's in your hands, it's illegal. However, if you are distracted by the sat nav and it affects your ability to drive safely, you could still be prosecuted by the police.

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Researcher Breaks ReCAPTCHA Using Google's Speech Recognition API
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taste-of-your-own-medicine department:
An anonymous reader writes: "A researcher has discovered what he calls a "logic vulnerability" that allowed him to create a Python script that is fully capable of bypassing Google's reCAPTCHA fields using another Google service, the Speech Recognition API," reports BleepingComputer. The attack is incredibly simple and works by downloading a version of the reCAPTCHA audio challenge, feeding it into Google's Speech Recognition API, getting the text-version of the audio challenge, and feeding it back into the reCAPTCHA field. Proof-of-concept code is available on GitHub, and the researcher says Google has failed to patch the issue, albeit it's unclear if he ever notified the company. The attack also only works against reCAPTCHA v2, not other versions like v1, or the upcoming Invisible reCAPTCHA (v3). Because the source code for the exploit is available online, security experts expect to see it ported to JavaScript and used to create browser extensions that bypass reCAPTCHA fields, especially when using the Tor Browser.

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IBM Gets a Patent On 'Out-of-Office' Email Messages -- In 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 04:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-year-is-it department:
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued IBM a -- what the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls -- "stupefyingly mundane" patent on e-mail technology. U.S. Patent No. 9,547,842, "Out-of-office electronic mail messaging system" was filed in 2010 and granted about six weeks ago. Ars Technica reports: The "invention" represented in the '842 patent is starkly at odds with the real history of technology, accessible in this case via a basic Google search. EFF lawyer Daniel Nazer, who wrote about the '842 patent in this month's "Stupid Patent of the Month" blog post, points to an article on a Microsoft publicity page that talks about quirky out-of-office e-mail culture dating back to the 1980s, when Microsoft marketed its Xenix e-mail system (the predecessor to today's Exchange.) IBM offers one feature that's even arguably not decades old: the ability to notify those writing to the out-of-office user some days before the set vacation dates begin. This feature, similar to "sending a postcard, not from a vacation, but to let someone know you will go on a vacation," is a "trivial change to existing systems," Nazer points out. Nazer goes on to identify some major mistakes made during the examination process. The examiner never considered whether the software claims were eligible after the Supreme Court's Alice v. CLS Bank decision, which came in 2014, and in Nazer's view, the office "did an abysmal job" of looking at the prior art. "[T]he examiner considered only patents and patent applications," notes Nazer. The office "never considered any of the many, many, existing real-world systems that pre-dated IBM's application."

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Oculus Cuts Price On Rift Goggles and Touch Controllers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 04:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's price-cuts department:
Oculus said Wednesday it is cutting the price of its Rift headset and Touch motion controllers by $100 each, dropping the cost of a complete system to $598. From a report: The Rift and Touch combination will drop to $598 from $799, or roughly $100 off each piece of high-end hardware. The discount applies even if the devices are purchased separately. Earlier this week, Oculus announced it was expanding its gaming content selection by eight titles. Brendan Iribe, who heads up the Oculus PC/VR group, refutes the notion that the price slash is in response to slow sales. "VR is a whole new platform and medium, it's the first time people are putting a computer on their head," Iribe, 37, told USA TODAY at the Game Developers Conference here. "We are cutting the price to bring VR to more people, and that's always been our goal."

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3.77-Billion-Year-Old Fossils Found, Could be Earliest Evidence of Life On Earth
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 03:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's living-things-101 department:
An anonymous reader shares The Guadian report: Scientists say they have found the world's oldest fossils, thought to have formed between 3.77bn and 4.28bn years ago. Comprised of tiny tubes and filaments made of an iron oxide known as haematite, the microfossils are believed to be the remains of bacteria that once thrived underwater around hydrothermal vents, relying on chemical reactions involving iron for their energy. If correct, these fossils offer the oldest direct evidence for life on the planet. And that, the study's authors say, offers insights into the origins of life on Earth. "If these rocks do indeed turn out to be 4.28 [bn years old] then we are talking about the origins of life developing very soon after the oceans formed 4.4bn years ago," said Matthew Dodd, the first author of the research from University College, London. With iron-oxidising bacteria present even today, the findings, if correct, also highlight the success of such organisms. "They have been around for 3.8bn years at least," said the lead author Dominic Papineau, also from UCL.

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Software Engineer Detained At JFK, Given Test To Prove He's An Engineer
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dot-your-i's-and-cross-your-t's department:
New submitter mendred quotes a report from Mashable: Celestine Omin, a software engineer at Andela -- a tech startup that connects developers in Africa with U.S employers -- had a particularly unwelcoming reception when he deplaned at John F. Kennedy Airport and was given a test to prove he was actually a software engineer. A LinkedIn post detailing Omin's challenging experience explained that upon landing in New York after spending 24 miserable hours on a Qatar Airways flight, he was given some trouble about the short-term visa he obtained for his trip. According to the post, an unprepared and exhausted Omin waited in the airport for approximately 20 minutes before being questioned by a Customs and Border Protection officer about his occupation. After several questions were asked, he was reportedly brought to a small room and told to sit down, where he was left for another hour before another customs officer entered and resumed grilling him. Omin was instructed to answer the following questions: "Write a function to check if a Binary Search Tree is balanced," and "What is an abstract class, and why do you need it."

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White House Supports Renewal of Spy Law Without Reforms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '17 at 01:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nothing-to-see-here department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The Trump administration does not want to reform an internet surveillance law to address privacy concerns, a White House official told Reuters on Wednesday, saying it is needed to protect national security. The announcement could put President Donald Trump on a collision course with Congress, where some Republicans and Democrats have advocated curtailing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, parts of which are due to expire at the end of the year. The FISA law has been criticized by privacy and civil liberties advocates as allowing broad, intrusive spying. It gained renewed attention following the 2013 disclosures by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that the agency carried out widespread monitoring of emails and other electronic communications. Portions of the law, including a provision known as Section 702, will expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress reauthorizes them. Section 702 enables two internet surveillance programs called Prism and Upstream, classified details of which were revealed by Snowden. Democratic and Republican lawmakers have said reforms to Section 702 are needed, in part to ensure the privacy protections on Americans are not violated. The U.S. House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee met Wednesday to discuss possible changes to the law.

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