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House Committee: Edward Snowden's Leaks Did 'Tremendous Damage'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's damage-beyond-repair department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: The U.S. House intelligence committee on Thursday unanimously approved a blistering report on the activities of Edward Snowden, saying his disclosures of top-secret documents and programs did "tremendous damage" to national security. "The public narrative popularized by Snowden and his allies is rife with falsehoods, exaggerations, and crucial omissions," said the report by staff members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Contrary to Snowden's statements that he intended to reveal programs that intruded on the privacy of Americans, the House report concluded that the vast majority of the 1.5 million documents he stole "have nothing to do with programs impacting individual privacy interests. They instead pertain to military, defense, and intelligence programs of great interest to America's adversaries." The report said Snowden did not, as he claimed, try to express his concerns about potentially illegal intelligence gathering in a way that would qualify him as a whistleblower. The report was disputed by Snowden's ACLU-provided attorney. "This is a dishonest report that attempts to discredit a genuine American hero," said Wizner. "But after years of 'investigation,' the committee still can't point to any remotely credible evidence that Snowden's disclosures caused harm. The truth is that Edward Snowden and the journalists with whom he worked did the job that the House Intelligence Committee was supposed to do: bring meaningful oversight to the U.S. Intelligence community. They did so responsibly and carefully, and their efforts have led to historic reforms."

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Chrome and Firefox Block Pirate Bay Over 'Harmful Programs'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 03:41 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's malware-attack department:
An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: Chrome and Firefox are actively blocking direct access to the The Pirate Bay's download pages. According to Google's Safe Browsing diagnostics service TPB contains "harmful programs," most likely triggered by malicious advertisements running on the site. Comodo DNS also showed a "hacking" warning but this disappeared after a few hours.

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FBI Agent Posing As Journalist To Deliver Malware To Suspect Was Fine, Says DOJ
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nothing-to-see-here-move-along department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: In 2007, an FBI agent impersonated an Associated Press journalist in order to deliver malware to a criminal suspect and find out his location. According to a newly published report from the Department of Justice, the operation was in line with the FBI's undercover policies at the time. Journalistic organizations had expressed concern that the tactic could undermine reporters' and media institutions' credibility. The case concerned a Seattle teenager suspected of sending bomb threats against a local school. FBI Special Agent Mason Grant got in touch with the teen over email, pretending to be an AP journalist. After some back and forth, Grant sent the suspect a fake article which, when clicked, grabbed his real IP address. Armed with this information, the FBI identified and arrested the suspect. The Associated Press, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and other journalistic organizations condemned the move. They pointed out that an FBI agent posing as a reporter could create distrust between legitimate journalists and sources, and also raised issues with the way the malware was distributed through a fake news story. The new Department of Justice report noted that, today, this activity would require greater authorization, under an interim policy on impersonating members of the media that was adopted by the FBI this June. Now, for the agency to pretend to be a journalist as part of an undercover operation, an application must be made by the head of an FBI field office to the agency's main headquarters, reviewed by the Undercover Review Committee, and then approved by the deputy director, after discussion with the deputy attorney general.

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Xiaomi Can Silently Install Any App On Your Android Phone Using A Backdoor
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's constantly-reappearing department:
Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer many refer to as the "Apple of China," can silently install any app on your device, according to a Computer Science student and security enthusiast from the Netherlands. Thijs Broenink started investigating a mysterious pre-installed app, dubbed AnalyticsCore.apk, that constantly runs in the background and reappears even if you try and delete it. The Hacker News reports: After asking about the purpose of the AnalyticsCore app on the company's support forum and getting no response, Thijs Broenink reverse engineered the code and found that the app checks for a new update from the company's official server every 24 hours. While making these requests, the app sends device identification information with it, including the phone's IMEI, Model, MAC address, Nonce, Package name as well as signature. If there is an updated app available on the server with the filename "Analytics.apk," it will automatically get downloaded and installed in the background without user interaction. Broenink found that there is no validation at all to check which APK is getting installed to a user's phone, which means there is a way for hackers to exploit this loophole. This also means Xiaomi can remotely and silently install any application on your device just by renaming it to "Analytics.apk" and hosting it on the server. Ironically, the device connects and receives updates over HTTP connection, exposing the whole process to Man-in-the-Middle attacks."

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FCC Republicans Refused To Give Congress Net Neutrality Documents
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stubborn-personality department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The two Republican members of the Federal Communications Commission have refused to give Congress documents needed to complete an investigation into the FCC's net neutrality rule-making process, according to a lawmaker. "Your refusal to cooperate with the Committee's request is unacceptable, it obstructs our investigation, and it prevents the Committee from having a complete or accurate understanding of the circumstances surrounding this rulemaking," U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wrote in a letter to FCC Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly yesterday. There are "serious questions" about "Pai's efforts to organize opposition to the proposed rule with outside parties," Cummings' office said in a related press release. "Pai previously worked as associate general counsel for Verizon, one of the major opponents of the open Internet policy, and he reportedly 'enjoys the support of conservative think tanks like the Phoenix Center, the Free State Foundation and TechFreedom,'" the press release said. O'Rielly wrote an op-ed on the net neutrality rules in 2014, but only after he "sought edits on [the] draft op-ed from three individuals outside the FCC with professional interests that could be affected by the rule," the press release said. The Republican lawmakers claimed that President Obama had "an improper influence" over the FCC's decision and demanded documentation of all communication between FCC personnel and the White House, as well as calendar appointments, visitor logs, and meeting minutes related to meetings with the White House, plus all internal documents discussing the views and recommendations of the White House. They also asked for all documents and e-mails related to views of FCC personnel about the net neutrality proceeding. A Cummings staff member told Ars that the "request has the backing of the full committee and all the enforcement mechanisms the committee has, including issuing a subpoena." The committee has schedule a hearing for September 27 on the status of outstanding document requests to different federal agencies, and could seek updates on the requests to the two Republican FCC commissioners at this hearing, a Democratic aide for the Oversight Committee also said.

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Why The FCC Chair Says Set-Top Box Reform Proposal Could Change
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's http://fortune.com/2016/09/15/fcc-set-top-box-reform-proposal/ department:
An anonymous reader writes: Hardware costs are down yet fees still seem to climb. The head of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said he might change his proposal to allow tens of millions of U.S. pay TV subscribers to ditch costly set-top boxes and access video programming online. At a Senate hearing on Thursday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler defended his revised proposal, which is scheduled for a final vote on Sept. 29. The plan, announced last week, lacks some of the most controversial aspects of the original proposal unveiled in January but includes a new licensing body to ensure that pay-TV companies do not enter into anti-competitive agreements. The plan is aimed at ending the cable industry's long domination of the $20-billion-a-year set-top box market and lowering prices for consumers. Nearly all pay-TV subscribers lease the boxes from their cable, satellite, or telecommunications providers at an average annual cost of $231. Those fees have jumped 185% since 1994, while the cost of televisions, computers, and mobile phones has dropped 90%, the FCC has estimated.

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T-Mobile To iPhone Users: Do Not Download iOS 10 For Now
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's buggy-updates department:
If you have an iPhone, and you're on T-Mobile network, do not install iOS 10 for now. The U.S. carrier warned on Thursday that the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, and the iPhone 5SE users who downloaded Apple's newest iOS software were facing connectivity issues. Apple is working on a fix, and T-Mobile expects to resolve things within 48 hours. ZDNet adds: You can power-cycle your iPhone by holding in the power and home button at the same time until you see an Apple logo displayed on the screen. Apple's release of iOS 10 hasn't been perfect. During its first hour of availability on Tuesday, iOS users reported issues with the update stalling just as it finished. Those impacted by the issue were required to use iTunes on a computer to reinstall the update. Despite a rough start, iOS 10 adoption was at nearly 15 percent after just 24 hours, and is currently at 21 perfect nearly two days after availability according to Mixpanel.

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A Woman Is Suing Her Parents For Posting Embarrassing Childhood Photos To Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's know-your-rights department:
Earlier this year, we ran a story which talked about how a parent could be sued by their kids for posting their photos on Facebook. Over the past two years, we have seen several such cases, and now we have another one. From a report on NYMag:An 18-year-old woman in Carinthia, Austria, is suing her parents over the 500-odd childhood photos they've posted of her on Facebook without her consent. "They knew no shame and no limit and didn't care whether it was a picture of me sitting on the toilet or lying naked in my cot -- every stage was photographed and then made public," she told The Local, an English-language Austrian newspaper. She went on, "I'm tired of not being taken seriously by my parents," who, despite her requests, have refused to take the photos down. The woman's father reportedly believes he's in the right to post the pictures because he took them. But her lawyer is adamant that if he can prove the photos violated the woman's right to privacy, her parents could be forced to pay damages and legal fees.

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iOS 10 Is Surfacing Hardcore Porn GIFs in iMessage
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's apple-porn-problem department:
Apple has found itself in hot water once again. The company's revamped iMessage -- and the inclusion of a range of extensions -- isn't rendering the best of results. Hours after the release of iOS 10 -- which caused issues for some users -- news outlets noticed a "highly sexual" My Little Pony GIF was appearing in searches when curious minds searched for the word "butt". But that wasn't the end of it. The Verge explains the horror: A woman who emailed The Verge this afternoon says her eight-year-old daughter, while trying to send a message to her dad, was presented with "a very explicit image" of "a woman giving oral sex to a well endowed male." Her daughter hadn't searched for anything explicit, just the word "huge." I see the image come up like, holy shit, whoa whoa whoa, that's a hardcore porn image," Tassie Bethany, whose daughter discovered the image, tells The Verge by phone. "I grabbed the phone from her immediately. She typed in the word 'huge,' which isn't sexual in any nature. It's just a word, not like butt or anything else." GIF search is one of the new features built into iMessage in iOS 10. Apple has been prohibiting searches for most sexual terms, but it's a real problem for porn to slip through for an otherwise normal term like "huge."Reminds me of Apple's old porn problems.

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China Launches Second Space Lab
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-on department:
Reader hackingbear writes: China's next space laboratory, Tiangong-2 launched from the country's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center today at 10:04 a.m. EDT (1404 GMT) on a Long March 2F carrier rocket. Like its predecessor Tiangong-1, Tiangong-2 is an orbiting space lab -- but this latest model has made several improvements in the series. Among the advances: astronauts can remain on the station up to 30 days; New systems allow in orbit refueling of propellant; and 14 new experiments in a wide range of sciences including composite material fabrication, advanced-plant cultivation, gamma ray burst polarization, fluid physics, space-to-earth quantum communications. The space lab is also equipped with a cold atom space clock, that has an estimated precision of 10 to the power of minus 16 seconds, or a one-second error every 30 million years, enhancing accuracy of time-keeping in space by one to two orders of magnitudes. This exactitude will help measure previously undetectable fluctuations for experiments conducted in zero-gravity.The Tiangong 2, while is an experimental space station, is still operational. The astronauts that would come on board next month are to spend a full month up there -- a longer period of time than possible on Tiangong 1.

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Microsoft Reproduces Google's Battery Life Test To Show Edge Beats Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's ego-boost department:
Earlier this year, Microsoft said that its Edge browser was more power efficient than Google's Chrome, a claim that Google refuted with its own findings. But the debate isn't over. An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is at it again -- touting Edge as the most battery-efficient browser on Windows 10. The company has rerun its battery tests from the previous quarter using the latest versions of the major browsers, open-sourced its lab test on GitHub, and published the full methodology. But this time, Microsoft says it also replicated one of Google's tests to show that Edge lasts longer than Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

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Pandora Has Announced Its $5 Subscription Service
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-changes department:
Peter Kafka, writing for Recode: Earlier this week, Pandora signed two of the three big music labels to deals that will let it launch new streaming music services. Now it is launching one of them: Pandora Plus, an "ad-free radio experience with dramatically increased functionality," which will sell for $5 a month. Most Pandora users won't be able to listen to the service today: A Pandora rep says the service is going live to about 1 percent of its user base today and won't fully roll out to all of its users for another month or so. In the meantime, Pandora is still negotiating with Warner Music Group, the remaining big music label that hasn't signed a deal with the streaming service. Sources say the two sides have an agreement in principle, but were still papering the deal late last night -- apparently Pandora didn't want to wait before it announced the new service. Pandora also wants to launch a $10-a-month service, but that one may not launch for months. The new $5 service replaces Pandora's existing $5 ad-free service and has two new features: The ability to skip as many songs as you want and the option to download a limited number of songs for offline listening.

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Alibaba Engineers Fired for Mooncake Hacking
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 08:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's over-the-moon department:
On the eve of Mid-Autumn Festival, some people will go to great lengths to get mooncakes, the traditional gift for family, friends and colleagues. At Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., four engineers tried to rig the distribution system of the e-commerce giant's mooncake selloff -- and were fired for their effort (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), reports WSJ. From the report: Alibaba confirmed it fired the four this week, after they hacked into the internal website that allows employees to purchase the company's signature mooncakes, with an orange fluffy Alibaba mascot inside. The Hangzhou-based company allocates one free box to each employee for the holiday, and sells extras on the site at cost -- 59 yuan (about $9) for a box of four.

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Android Wear Hopefuls Call Timeout On Smartwatches
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 07:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-time department:
Things are not looking good for Google's Android Wear. Three of the top Android Wear smartwatches maker have confirmed that they won't be releasing a smartwatch in the waning months of the year. From a CNET report:While LG launched a watch in the first half, it'll have been more than a year since Huawei and Motorola offered an update on their wearables. That marks a reversal from last year, when all three companies launched Android Wear smartwatches at the early September IFA trade show in Berlin in what was supposed to be a resurgence of the platform. At this year's show, Chinese maker Asus was the only major tech company to return with a new Android Wear watch. The poor showing underscores the general lack of enthusiasm for smartwatches, which the industry has touted as the next hot trend in tech. Consumers, however, continue to question the usefulness of these gadgets. Even Apple, which leads the market for smartwatches, saw its shipments fall 55 percent from a year ago in the second quarter, according to IDC. "Smartwatches still have yet to make a significant impression on consumers as a must-have device," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. Time stands still for some in the smartwatch market.

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Mobileye Says Tesla Was Dropped Because of Safety Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 07:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's reality-check department:
An anonymous reader writes: On Wednesday, Mobileye revealed that it ended its relationship with Tesla because "it was pushing the envelope in terms of safety." Mobileye's CTO and co-founder Amnon Shashua told Reuters that the electric vehicle maker was using his company's machine vision sensor system in applications for which it had not been designed. "No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system," Shashua said. In a statement to Reuters, Tesla said that it has "continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that they're responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot" and that the system has never been described as autonomous or self-driving. (This statement appears to be at odds with statements made by Musk at shareholder meetings.) It is also emerging that the crash which cost Joshua Brown his life in May of this year was unlikely to have been the first such fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot. In January of this year in China, a Tesla ploughed into the back of a stationary truck at speed, killing the driver.

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Apple Explores the Idea Of Killing Headphone Jack On the MacBook Pro
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 06:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's kill-everything department:
Less than two weeks after Apple unveiled its headphone jack-less iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the company is already exploring the idea of doing the same on its flagship computing lineup. An anonymous reader shares a report on The Next Web: Apple might be going all-in with the wireless revolution as the company is now allegedly considering killing the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro. Users are reporting that as of recently Apple has been asking them to fill in a survey about the way they use their MacBook Pro and one of the questions pertains particularly to the headphone jack. Shared by Blake A. via Twitter, the question reads "Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook Pro with Retina display?", suggesting Apple is exploring going jackless with its laptops in the future. Given the Cupertino company just ditched the audio jack on the iPhone 7, the change is likely to eventually come to other Apple products too -- the real question is when.

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FBI Director James Comey: Cover Up Your Webcam
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 06:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sticky-note department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The head of the FBI on Wednesday defended putting a piece of tape over his personal laptop's webcam, claiming the security step was a common sense one that most should take. "There's some sensible things you should be doing, and that's one of them," Director James Comey said during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen," he added. "They all have a little lid that closes down on them. "You do that so that people who don't have authority don't look at you. I think that's a good thing." Comey was pilloried online earlier this year, after he revealed that he puts a piece of tap over his laptop camera to keep away prying eyes. The precaution is a common one among security advocates, given the relative ease of hacking laptop cameras. But many found it ironic for Comey, who this year launched a high profile battle against Apple to gain access to data locked inside of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists. Many viewed that fight as a referendum on digital privacy.

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None of Your Pixelated or Blurred Information Will Stay Safe On The Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 03:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's prescription-glasses department:
The University of Texas at Austin and Cornell University are saying blurred or pixelated images are not as safe as they may seem. As machine learning technology improves, the methods used to hide sensitive information become less secure. Quartz reports: Using simple deep learning tools, the three-person team was able to identify obfuscated faces and numbers with alarming accuracy. On an industry standard dataset where humans had 0.19% chance of identifying a face, the algorithm had 71% accuracy (or 83% if allowed to guess five times). The algorithm doesn't produce a deblurred image -- it simply identifies what it sees in the obscured photo, based on information it already knows. The approach works with blurred and pixelated images, as well as P3, a type of JPEG encryption pitched as a secure way to hide information. The attack uses Torch (an open-source deep learning library), Torch templates for neural networks, and standard open-source data. To build the attacks that identified faces in YouTube videos, researchers took publicly-available pictures and blurred the faces with YouTube's video tool. They then fed the algorithm both sets of images, so it could learn how to correlate blur patterns to the unobscured faces. When given different images of the same people, the algorithm could determine their identity with 57% accuracy, or 85% percent when given five chances. The report mentions Max Planck Institute's work on identifying people in blurred Facebook photos. The difference between the two research is that UT and Cornell's research is much more simple, and "shows how weak these privacy methods really are."

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Samsung Stops Airing Galaxy Note 7 Commercials, Preps Early Launch of Galaxy S8
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 11:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's damage-control department:
An anonymous reader writes: Given the bad press surrounding Samsung in regard to the faulty Galaxy Note 7 batteries, the company appears to have stopped airing Galaxy Note 7 commercials on TV. You know it's bad when they have reportedly stopped airing commercials in their home country, South Korea. One of the reasons behind the move is because sales of the Galaxy Note 7 have been suspended for over a week now, and will not be resuming until there is enough inventory to replace all Galaxy Note 7 units that have already been shipped. Some analysts believe sales might not be resumed until next month. Samsung will be using the ad space to market their other products like TVs and refrigerators. In addition, the company may be looking to launch the successor to the Galaxy S7 ahead of schedule. Kim Sang-pyo, an analyst for KB Investment and Securities said in a report: "If Samsung's flagship smartphone launch is delayed to the end of the first quarter of next year, the profitability of the mobile business division could be worsened next year," states the analyst. SamMobile also recently revealed the new model numbers for the Galaxy S8: the SM-G950 and the SM-G955. One model will feature a smaller screen, the other larger -- similar to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, though both phones might have a curved display this time around.

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The Sixth Mass Extinction Will Hit The Biggest Animals The Hardest, Says Stanford Study
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 08:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-goes-around-comes-around department:
The sixth mass extinction will be an event triggered by people and will hit the biggest animals the hardest. "There is no past event that looks biologically like what's happening today," says lead study author Jonathan Payne of Stanford University. "Processes like warming and ocean acidification are not the dominant cause of threat in the modern ocean." Gizmodo reports: A paleontologist by training, Payne and his research group started compiling data on modern marine organisms several years back, in order to study how body size and ecological traits have changed over evolutionary time. Payne, who has studied the End Permian extinction event that wiped out more than 95 percent of all marine species 250 million years ago, soon realized that his dataset -- which included living and extinct members of nearly 2,500 marine genera -- could serve another purpose. By comparing the extinction threat faced by modern marine genera (as indicated by their official conservation status) with their ancestral counterparts, Payne and his colleagues discovered that modern extinction threat is more strongly associated with body size. Larger animals face a greater risk of disappearing than smaller animals. Today, the dominant driver of marine extinction is people, and people aren't terribly selective about which environments they pluck animals from. We go for the biggest game, fishing down the food web and removing top predators. Within species, too, we tend to hunt the largest individuals, which is why North Atlantic cod and Chesapeake oysters were historically much larger. "In a sense, we're driving evolution [toward smaller individuals]," Payne said. What's worth noting is that the Stanford researchers only looked at organisms whose extinction risk has been assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which creates a bias towards big, charismatic groups like fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, etc. The marine genera that were analyzed only had fossil counterparts, too. Gizmodo also notes that the study "excluded corals, which are currently in the midst of a catastrophic, global die-off."

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