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December 9, 2013

Morning Roundup: Tech firms publish open letter to US government, Samsung retries failed Galaxy S3 update and rare materials shortage could set back gadget innovation

A roundup of today's top tech news.

By Kate Heslop

Tech companies issue open letter to US government

Several tech companies have published an open letter to Barack Obama and Congress today to demand serious changes to US surveillance laws that would enforce an international ban on collection of data. This is to ensure that the public has "trust in the internet" after the disclosure of information by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

An excerpt of the letter reads: "We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide. The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change."

The companies that came together to sign the letter are Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, AOL, Twitter and Yahoo.

Samsung retries failed update to Galaxy S3 devices

An update that had recently failed and left many owners of the Galaxy S3 with a draining battery or a frozen screen is to be attempted again.

The update was to give users the 4.3 version of the Jelly Bean Android operating system.

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A statement by Samsung said: A statement explained: "The fix for the issues with Galaxy S3 Jelly Bean 4.3 upgrade has begun rolling out to selected users in the UK, and will continue to do so.

"Specific upgrade schedules will vary by mobile operators. Please check your phone for the upgrade."

Shortage of rare materials could set back gadget innovation

A study has suggested that rare materials, such as certain metals, that are used frequently when making gadgets may one day put the future of gadgets at risk.

Due to the high demand for certain devices and rare materials use to make them, supplies may dwindle, according to the research by Yale University.

The study also found that, through the analysis of 62 metals or metalloids found in common gadgets, none of them had viable alternatives that performed equally well. Twelve of the materials had no alternative whatsoever.

An excerpt from the report by Yale University read: "As wealth and population increase worldwide in the next few decades, scientists will be increasingly challenged to maintain and improve product utility by designing new and better materials, but doing so under potential constraints in resource availability."

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