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25
May

Xiaomi Mi Drone Release Date, Price and Specs – CNET


With the Xiaomi Mi Drone, the Chinese company keeps doing what it does best: promising tech with high-end specs and performance at incredibly competitive prices.

Outside of China the company is best known for its smartphones, but it has been building a lineup of related devices such as the Yi action cam and the Mi Box, an Android TV-powered set-top box.

Now there’s a quadcopter. Xiaomi says the Mi Drone will come in two versions, one with a 4K-resolution camera and another with a 1080p camera. The former will be available in late July for 2,999 yuan (approximately $455, AU$635 or £310) as part of an open beta program. The latter is priced at 2,499 yuan (around $380, AU$530 or £260) and will be crowdfunded through the company’s Mi Home app, starting on May 26.

While there’s definitely been a drop in consumer drone prices, a sub-$500 price for a quad with a 4K-resolution camera is remarkable. Category leader DJI’s least-expensive quad with a 4K camera comes in at $799. Though you probably won’t get as polished a product as the DJI, Xiaomi is promising a compelling package.

The 1080p camera features a 16-megapixel Sony sensor while the 4K version uses a 12-megapixel sensor to record at 3,840×2,160-pixel resolution and supports photo capture in raw format. Both are mounted on motorized three-axis gimbals for image stabilization. To make traveling easier, the cameras are removable and the landing gear folds up.

Other features include:

  • GPS and Glonass support for accurate positioning outdoors
  • Visual positioning system for stability when flying indoors or without GPS (below 2.5 meters/8 feet)
  • Up to 27 minutes of flight time from a 5,100 mAh removable battery
  • Automatic take-off, landing and return modes
  • Flight path planning and point-of-interest orbiting modes
25
May

OnePlus 3 release date leaks as 14 June, day after Apple’s WWDC 2016


The OnePlus 3 smartphone, which is due to be announced via VR feed, will be unveiled on 14 June, according to a OnePlus leak. That places it the day after Apple’s WWDC 2016 event has kicked off.

A customer who bought a OnePlus Loop VR headset, which can be used to watch the launch event in virtual reality, spoke to OnePlus. When directly asked when the event will take place, the OnePlus representative said it would be on 14 June.

This date makes a lot of sense as it’s not only close to last year’s, but with a VR Loop shipping date of 6 June guaranteed in seven days, it should be just right. Any earlier and people wouldn’t have the VR headsets, any later and the shipping date would be irrelevant.

The fact that OnePlus has chosen to launch its new smartphone the day after Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference could be seen as a shot across the company’s bow, so to speak. Although, more likely, it’s just chance. After all, who would want to risk getting lost in the noise of Apple’s announcements?

The OnePlus 3, according to rumours so far, is expected to come with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, Snapdragon 820 processor, 64GB storage, 16-megapixel camera, NFC and the Android N operating system.

READ: OnePlus 3: What’s the story so far?

25
May

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Beautiful Ultra-HD Blu-ray


Optical discs are dead, or so many would have you believe. That’s perhaps a reflection of the times we’re living in, where streaming entertainment out-paces its arrival on physical media. What better example than the latest Star Wars blockbuster, arriving on digital platforms weeks before it hits the stores? 

Then we have 4K resolution, lauded as the next thing in home entertainment, arriving via Netflix and Amazon Prime Video long before Ultra HD Blu-ray (which caters for 4K output) was even available.

That makes the challenge faced by Ultra HD Blu-ray greater than it was at the last throw of the dice; plus you’ll need a decent 4K TV set if you don’t already own one. The upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray was an easy decision, but with streaming options now cheap, plentiful and widely available, do we even need optical discs any more? 

Well, yes, if you love movies then you do.

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Design

The Samsung UBD-K8500 is the most affordable 4K player on the market at the time of writing. But then with only Panasonic in contention the options are, like Ultra-HD Blu-ray discs themselves, not exactly plentiful. So if you’re looking for the most affordable route into 4K Blu-ray then this Samsung is it.

The most notable thing about the K8500’s design is its curve. With Samsung now billing flat TVs as equally flagship as its curved ones, the player’s bent design may just be a throwback to its original 2015 announcement and little more. 

Certainly, once this player is stacked in place with your other AV components, that curve is barely noticeable when looking at it front-on. It’s a black box as all these things typically are, and apart from that curve and some angularity to the front, there’s little else to comment on. This player is a standard 40mm wide and just like most Blu-ray players of recent times is only 230mm deep.

The front of the player sees the disc drawer to the left, with touch controls on the top right, offering up the basics to control playback or eject the disc. Most other controls will fall to the included remote. Otherwise the front is fairly free from distractions, with only a small LED to reflect the status of the player. We’ve been spared glowing logos and all the rest of it – simple is best and it works well in this instance.

There’s a fan on the rear for cooling, which doesn’t make more noise than any of the other devices we have connected to the TV – the loudest being the Xbox One power supply.

Pocket-lint

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Connections keep it simple

In terms of connectivity, the Samsung UBD-K8500 is the simpler of the two Ultra HD Blu-ray players on the market (at the time of writing), with Panasonic offering the more comprehensive selection of connections on its rival UB900 player.

The Samsung features two HDMI ports, one for connection to your display, the second designed for audio. This is a convenient setup for those wanting to connect to an existing AV receiver or soundbar, without having to tackle the issue of whether passthrough is going to be a problem. Optical is also offered as an audio alternative, for those with legacy hardware.

There’s an Ethernet connection as well as Wi-Fi, meaning you can wire up for the online services the player also offers. If you’ve no plans to use the in-built apps, then Wi-Fi is fine for the online software check-ups that the player might want to do, but if you want to stream 4K content then we’d advise using Ethernet.

There’s a front USB port that will allow you to connect a drive, offering an easy method for watching content you might have downloaded, or captured yourself from a phone or camera. The positioning on the front of the player is convenient, as most TVs’ USB ports are around the back, which is good for aesthetics, if not connectivity.

Pocket-lint

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Setup and settings

As with most other Blu-ray players and peripherals, setup is straightforward. However, the important thing about setting up an Ultra HD Blu-ray player isn’t just the player itself, but also on the display you’re connecting it to.

When connecting to your TV’s HDMI you need to ensure the TV knows you’re connecting an Ultra HD device and select “UHD HDMI Colour” or “HDMI Deep Colour” (different manufacturers use different names). This is the same process you’ll have to go through with other Ultra HD/4K devices at the moment, as not all TVs automatically detect what has been connected. But if you don’t turn it on, you won’t get the wonderful colours you’re expecting and things will look a little stripy. 

For the player itself there are a range of settings to govern video and audio. Within these settings you’ll find options to set the output resolution, 3D, 24fps/cinema and so on. You can force things, or stick to Auto, according to your preferences.

If you stick to Auto, then the player will output at the highest resolution it can for the material – that’s 3840 x 2160 50p for a DVD and 3840 x 2160 60p for Blu-ray – and handle upscaling. If you choose to step-down the output resolution then the TV will handle any upscaling.

In the settings you’ll also find everything you want to manage audio, so you can select an output appropriate for the system you’re connecting to, be that PCM, bitstream or re-encoded for DTS or Dolby Digital.

Pocket-lint

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Control and navigation

Samsung has opted for a compact remote that’s nice enough to grip, although we suspect the size will make it even easier to lose down the back of the sofa. If you’re connected to a Samsung TV, you may find by using Anynet+ you’ll have some control via your standard TV remote – although this is the slower option, as commands are passed from the TV back to the player. 

The K8500’s homescreen has three main areas: the disc in the drive, as applicable; multi-media, which handles network storage or USB drives; and Samsung apps, which is where you go to download any apps you want from Samsung’s smart TV platform, such as Netflix or Amazon video (there’s little of much value outside those major subscription services).

The overall user interface lacks the maturity of Samsung’s Smart TVs, but we guess this is something of a grey area: you’re likely to be linking this player to a sophisticated 4K TV, so the inclusion of these streaming services (offering 4K where available) may be an unnecessary addition. But if you’ve found yourself without Netflix 4K because it’s not on your TV, then this player rectifies that.

Pocket-lint

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Picture and performance

Ultra HD Blu-ray only exists for one major reason: to deliver an experience that surpasses Blu-ray and, ultimately, all those streaming services too. We’ve long been of the opinion that Blu-ray is superior to Full HD streaming, not only in consistency and solidity of the picture quality, but also the wider audio options you’re potentially offered. 

Streaming might win out on convenience and price, but fire-up an Ultra HD Blu-ray and you’re treated to that visual feast once again. Sure, Ultra HD Netflix offers up some lovely sharp images, but the depth that comes with Ultra HD Blu-ray will have you grinning from ear to ear. It delivers on that next-gen promise, with your 4K TV throwing out super-sharp visuals.

There’s just so much more data available from the disc version that be chanelled through that HDMI cable (HDMI 1.4 works fine at up to 30fps; HDMI 2.0 is what you’ll want for 60fps and high dynamic range (HDR)).

And it’s HDR that plays a big part in elevating Ultra HD Blu-ray beyond just a pure resolution bump. It caters for a wider range of peak brightness and low black level, with some titles (but not all) utilising this added potential. We’re fairly sure that HDR could be abused by some makers, just as 3D has been used to create some horrible films, but used right and the added pop it brings makes a huge difference. However, HDR is a varying experience based on how good your TV is, the size of it and the distance you’re sitting from it.

Overall, the combination of that resolution combined with the increased contrast and colour encased in HDR makes Ultra HD Blu-ray a premium experience compared to the flatter delivery of a streamed title. And that’s what really matters. Having watched The Martian streamed via Google Play and Chromecast, the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of it felt like an entirely different filmic experience.

Pocket-lint

However, Ultra HD Blu-ray is a new format, meaning it’s more expensive and titles are limited, slowly being released as they get remastered by studios. It’s likely that you’ll be watching a lot of Blu-rays in the meantime. But these look excellent upscaled. We’d go as far as saying DVDs are still very watchable too, so all those old favourites are just as valid as they were before. We appreciate the added colour pop to Back to the Future on DVD: shaky titles only add to the 80s character.

Samsung UBD-K8500 review: Your TV matters

For all this good there is an important point to considered: the Ultra-HD Blu-ray experience is very much defined by your television. And if you don’t have a 4K set yet then you’ll need to invest in one wisely.

We tested the K8500 with the 55-inch Samsung JS9000 and Samsung KS7000 televisions, both of which sit towards the top of Samsung’s collection for 2015 and 2016 respectively. We also tested it using a more entry-level LG LED UHD TV, which is a quarter of the price of that top-end Samsung. On the cheaper display many of the benefits are lost. First of all, it lacks HDR support, which is a big part of the Ultra HD Blu-ray experience as we’ve discussed, but it also doesn’t deliver on the detail or colour, regardless of the source.

The point is that if you’re planning to pair your Ultra HD Blu-ray player with a poor TV, you’re not getting anywhere near the experience that you get from the best TVs. There are no real shortcuts here and we suspect that those interested in the very latest in home entertainment will already have, or be planning to buy, a great TV.

Verdict

If you were in any doubt about the relevance of optical media then rest assured: Ultra HD Blu-ray is stunning, offering a premium experience that surpasses other current options.

For those seeking that next-gen visual experience, the Samsung UBD-K8500 is a solid choice. It’s also more affordable than its main Panasonic rival, although lacks the range of connections that might see the Panasonic emerge as the more technically adept option.


Of course, you’ll need a 4K TV capable of doing Ultra-HD Blu-ray justice. And given the slender catalogue of titles available it might be worth waiting for more to become widely available and at prices you’re willing to pay before taking the plunge.


The future is Ultra HD Blu-ray and whether you invest now or bide your time, one thing is certain: there’s no point in buying a premium Blu-ray player any more.

25
May

LG G Flex 3 slated to make modular appearance at IFA 2016


The LG G Flex 3 has been the source of very few rumours of late, with very little solid information. Now it appears that the G Flex 3 will make an appearance at IFA 2016 this September.

The curved LG G Flex 3 will, obviously, be the successor to the self-healing G Flex 2, which was unveiled in January 2015. Not only is the G Flex 3 likely to have the latest generation of self-healing but it should also be modular, like the LG G5.

According to reports from Phonespot the handset will come with a 5.5-inch QHD curved display, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 CPU back by 4BG or RAM and 32 or 64GB of storage plus microSD expansion.

The camera on the rear should be a 16-megapixel and 8-megapixel “Twin Camera” while the selfie snapper is expected to be an 8-megapixel unit.

At this early stage the details are few and far between and the sources can’t be verified so we’re taking this all with a pinch of salt. LG will be looking to find more hardware platforms that it can use its modular add-ons with, so making the G Flex 3 modular makes sense.

Expect more details to emerge as IFA approaches where we will be to bring you all the details from the event.

READ: LG G5 review: Modular misfire?

25
May

Best smart clothes: Wearables to improve your life


Smart clothes are the next step beyond wearables. Despite smart watches and activity trackers just beginning to become popular, smart clothing is already starting to appear.

So far there are already items of smart clothing available including t-shirts that measure biometrics and bras that adapt to support in certain situations. But there’s even more coming in the months ahead. Under Armour bought MapMyFitness, as an example of a clothing specialist moving into the biometric area.

We’ve gathered the best of smart clothes so you know what’s available, what’s coming and how clothes can enhance your health.

MyZone Sports Bra

A heart rate monitor built into a sports bra could be the ultimate simplicity in the path from sports clothes to smart clothes. The result should be a comfortable top that offers support as well as an ability to share heart rate data with a connected device. Coupled with the app this will train the wearer in their own heart rate zones, that adapt to fitness, creating a perfect push while still offering encouragement through success.

The MyZone Sports Bra can share data with a Bluetooth connected smartphone, smartwatches and even gym screens. That means it can be used pretty much anywhere. It’s made from quick drying fabric, comes in three sizes, red or black colours and costs £50. The heart rate monitor can be unclipped for charging after about seven months of use, as well as for washing of the bra.

MORE MyZone tracks fitness effort to make health inspiring again

Lumo Run

The Lumo name was first associated with wearables that help posture. Now that smart body tracking has been put into shorts and been supercharged. 

The Lumo Run shorts are filled with sensors capable of tracking running metrics including cadence, bounce, ground contact time, braking, pelvic rotation and stride length. They’ll even offer realtime audio feedback via the app and your headphones.

The Lumo Run shorts are available for pre-order now from $99 for a 21 October release.

LikeAGlove

The LikeAGlove leggings intelligently measure a wearer’s shape so they can shop for the ideal sized clothes. Not only do the leggings find all the perfect measurements but they work, via Bluetooth, with the app to filter clothing options down to those that are available in the wearer’s size.

The idea is to make shopping for clothes easier by getting the correct size every time, something which isn’t always easy online when you can’t try items on in the shop first.

LikeAGlove leggings are available for pre-order now for £25 before 16 October. After that the normal retail price will be £35. They will begin shipping early in 2016.

Google Images

Athos

Athos is at the forefront of smart wearable clothing. The Athos shirt and shorts are tight fitting sensor filled garments capable of detecting heart rate, breathing rate and even muscle activity thanks to EMG sensors.

The Athos line features a small core which works with the sensors to deliver data via Bluetooth to your smartphone. This 20g gadget slips into a pocket on the top of shorts and lasts 10 hours on a charge. But it’s not just for sending information it also features a 6-axis accelerometer for measuring movement as you workout.

These types of clothing are going to be brilliant for muscle focused gym workouts where recording anything more than heart rate, which isn’t that helpful for weights, has previously been reserved for professional athletes.

The Athos Core is $199, shorts and shirts start at $99 each meaning a total of $298 which is about £190 from Athos.

Victoria’s Secret

Victoria’s Secret heart rate bra

Victoria’s Secret, the women’s lingerie specialist, has released a sports bra that is capable of measuring the wearer’s heart rate. 

The Incredible bra features a chest placed heart rate monitor built-in. These chest placed monitors have been around for years, usually packaged with sports watches, and are now highly accurate. As a result the bra can be used to monitor during running, boxing and other high-impact workouts.

At its most basic level the sports bra is still high tech as it’s made from a Body-Wick fabric which keeps the wearer cool and dry during workouts. Clothing+ is the Finnish fabric maker behind both the materials and the sensor technology built-into the bra.

The Incredible by Victoria’s Secret Heart-Rate Monitor Compatible Sport Bra, as it’s called, will cost $75 which is about £48.

Google Images

Radiate

Radiate is brilliantly simple yet effective. Remember those shirts back in the day that would change colour with heat? This is effectively a more advanced version of those, meaning you can track muscle use.

The Radiate shirts are tight fitting and change colour as your muscles get hot. So if you were training in the gym you’d be able to see in your reflection where you’re working on your body. Yes we don’t like to encourage for parakeet gym buffs checking themselves out but this is a genuinely good idea.

The Radiate 2.0 shirt for men and the ones for women are both $60 for long sleeve and $50 for short.

Google Images

Ralph Lauren PoloTech Shirt

Luxury clothes brand Ralph Lauren has been developing smart clothing with sensor specialist OM Signal. The result is a shirt that can monitor the wearer’s heart rate thanks to bio-sensing silver wiring.

The shirt not only measures heart rate and breathing rate but actively offers feedback on your training via your phone or tablet. If you’re not pushing hard enough to stay in your desired heart rate zone it will tell you, audibly, to push more.

The sensors track calories burned, intensity of workout, heart rate, stress rate and more, says Ralph Lauren. The brain of the shirt sits on the side by the rib cage out of the way.

The PoloTech Shirt is available on the Ralph Lauren site now for $295.

Google Images

GO Utility Vest solar jacket

Charging on the go is a reality now thanks to the GO Utility Vest. Ok it looks a little ridiculous with big solar panels on each pocket. And yes at $580 it’s not cheap. But it represents the future of smart clothing. Plus if you’re out and about all day this will keep you warm and dry while charging your gadgets.

Imagine what the future will hold once solar panels become weavable, invisible solar panels can be stitched into any clothing. Then you can have the solar clothing without looking like you’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse. Pick one up on the site.

Hexoskin

Hexoskin

The Hexoskin smart shirt, made with Italian textiles, is able to track the wearer’s heart rate, breathing rate and volume, steps with cadence and calories and even sleep. It uses a small device that slips into a pouch on the shirt. It connects via Bluetooth to iOS and Android devices.

Hexoskin’s second generation now works with third party apps like Strava, RunKeeper and Endomondo. It’s also got an extended battery life that can last up to 30 hours.

The Hexoskin is available in short and long sleeved versions for men and women. The shirt with device and cable is available to buy now for $399 which is about £255.

University of Wollongong

Bionic Bra

The Bionic Bra is still in development at the University of Wollongong in Australia. But the end result will be a smart bra that can offer support when needed and loosen for comfort at other times.

The Bionic Bra is able to tighten and loosen automatically allowing it to offer more support or breath room to suit the wearer. The result should be consistent comfort with support during sport, like running. It sounds like the bra is either tight, offering support during sport, or loose when the wearer is out relaxing, meaning it can be worn constantly. We wonder how many girls actually leave their sweaty sports bras on after training though.

The technology is still in development so don’t expect to see this too soon.

Hot pants

Adidas, sponsoring the Team GB cyclists in 2012, came up with its heated trousers. These tailor made, battery powered trousers heat up in order to warm the legs of the athletes ahead of exercise.

Heated trouser, or “Hotpants” as they were dubbed, allowed muscles to reach an efficient 38 degress Celsius. This meant less time warming up so they could save their energy for the competition.

We doubt these particular trousers will make it onto the market for non-professional athletes anytime soon but something similar may arrive in smart clothes in the near future.

25
May

Apple MacBook 2016 may have built-in 4G LTE network connection


Apple’s WWDC is just around the corner and 2016 is due for a refreshed line of MacBook laptops, but this time it might be more than just a refresh. Apple could introduce independently network connected MacBooks with their own 4G.

A patent has been discovered, which was filed by Apple, showing a laptop with its own network connecting capabilities. While iPads and iPhones have the ability to use a SIM for network connection anywhere, MacBooks currently can’t. These need a Wi-Fi or wired connection to get online, something that seems old when you think about how often laptops need to be online.

Laptops with SIM capabilities already exist but this would be the first time Apple has gone down that route. Other rumours suggest the company is gong to unveil a new MacBook Pro line with big changes including an OLED touch bar instead of function keys.

If Apple does add SIM capabilities to its MacBooks it’s possible the data connection deals will allow for purchase through phone networks. That could mean paying monthly for a MacBook or even including deals with phone and laptop. But, of course, this is early days stuff as it’s just a patent so we’re not holding our breath.

Patently Apple

READ: Apple MacBook Pro 2016: Goodbye physical keys and hello OLED touch bar?

25
May

TripAdvisor is offering two free months of Google Play Music


Google Play Music is a solid service, but it’s a bit of an afterthought in the marketplace compared to bigger players like Spotify and Apple Music. And in a crowded market, Google’s likely looking for ways to muster up more interest and exposure for the service — but the partnership the company announcing is a bit of an odd one, no matter how you slice it. Google has partnered with Tripadvisor to put specific travel-focused stations inside the Tripadvisor Android app. Tapping one to start it up will drop you into the Google Play Music app and offer you two months of the premium service for free, provided you’ve never used it before.

The suggested stations show up when you’re viewing various pages for different cities around the globe. It doesn’t look like they were created custom for the TripAdvisor partnership but rather are existing stations that have been curated and linked to various cities. They’re built on the same Songza technology that Google has been using for its stations since late 2014. The connection to travel may be slightly dubious here, but Play Music’s activity- and mood-based stations remain one of the service’s best features, so exposing it to more potential users is a reasonably good idea.

Ultimately, the goal is to push users into giving the free trial a shot and eventually converting a subset of those into full paying members, but how successful it’ll be remains to be seen. Despite it being a somewhat odd and obscure partnership, two free months of a strong streaming music service is hard to pass up. If you haven’t tried Google Play Music, you can get this promo starting today through the TripAdvisor Android app.

25
May

Apple rehires security expert to keep its encryption strong


Reuters says Apple has rehired security expert Jon Callas, part of a continued overhaul of its security team. Callas originally worked for Apple both in the 90s as well as more recently, between 2009 and 2011, where he worked on Mac security. Apple’s device encryption has become a bigger issue since it refused to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino gunmen earlier this year. (The FBI eventually unlocked the device with some third-party assistance.)

Callas had also co-founded several secure comms companies, including including PGP Corp, Silent Circle and Blackphone. A Senate committee is still debating legislation that could compel companies to help law enforcement agencies bypass their own encryption — something that Apple says would make its products more vulnerable to hacking.

Apple’s work on security doesn’t stop with this hire. As the WSJ reported a few months back, the company is also working on improving encryption in iCloud. It also recently grabbed Frederic Jacobs, the developer behind Signal, a secure chat app used by Edward Snowden, as an intern.

Source: Reuters

25
May

Scientists believe supermassive black holes had speedy births


Supermassive black holes found in the center of galaxies like the Milky Way might be super-huge, because they were born big in the first place. A team of astronomers from the Scuola Normale Superiore in Italy found evidence that these gigantic celestial objects thousands to millions of times larger than our sun came from a special type of black hole seeds. These seeds formed “directly from the collapse of giant gas clouds” and didn’t have to go through any intermediate steps, such as the explosion of a star.

While we still barely know anything about supermassive black holes at this point in time, scientists do have theories on how they formed. One suggests that they’re the result of several smaller black holes merging into one. Another theory says these supermassives gobble up more food (that is, gas and dirt) from their surroundings. However, scientists believe that some of the biggest black holes took form merely a billion years after the Big Bang, and both those processes would’ve been too slow to reach the mass they have. According to Andrea Ferrara, one of the study’s authors, their work suggests that supermassives “start big and grow at the normal rate, rather than starting small and growing at a very fast rate.”

The astronomers in this study pulled out and combined data from Hubble, Chandra X-ray Observatory and Spitzer Space Telescope to find potential supermassive black hole seeds. They found two strong contenders, but we’ll have to wait for quite some time for a follow up. They still need to gather more data, most likely from upcoming observatories such as the James Webb Space Telescope, for confirmation.

Source: NASA

25
May

Home Secretary submits to review of bulk surveillance powers


In an attempt to get the Labour Party on board with the Investigatory Powers Bill, Home Secretary Theresa May has committed to an independent review of the bulk powers it affords law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The controversial surveillance legislation is currently being debated in parliament, but it needs broad support if it’s ever going to make it into law. That’s not something Labour MP and Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham is willing to do without “significant improvement” to the bill.

In a letter to May last month, Burnham recommended some of the vaguer definitions in the bill be clarified, and criticised the relative ease at which many public authorities could justify using certain powers. He also called for an independent assessment of “bulk powers,” which allow security and intelligence agencies to collect data, intercept communications and hack equipment on a grand scale (rather than taking a more targeted approach). If you think of a specific dataset like a day’s browsing history as a water droplet, bulk powers are like turning on a tap.

These bulk powers have been a contentious point since the Investigatory Powers Bill was first drafted. Some members of the joint committee appointed to scrutinise the legislation early on questioned whether they were ever appropriate, or even legal. Subsequently, the Home Office published an operational case for bulk powers — a document that provides specific use cases for the powers to justify their inclusion.

As the BBC reports, it’s this operational case that will be examined by none other than David Anderson QC, a trusted independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. He will deliver his views sometime in the summer, when the bill is expected to have progressed from the House of Commons to be debated further in the House of Lords. No doubt Theresa May is hoping that only minor amendments are suggested, as the UK government would like the bill passed into law by the end of the year, when the emergency Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act expires.

Burnham has called the concession “extremely encouraging,” stating it was “the right thing to do and something which will build trust in this process.” It’s clear Theresa May has much more to do to win Labour over, however, with Burnham also saying:

“We do continue to have serious concerns about the bill as currently drafted. It does not yet contain sufficiently strong safeguards and human rights protections.”

Via: The Register

Source: BBC

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