TIME Gadgets

Apple Watch Pre-Orders Hit Almost 1 Million on First Day, Group Estimates

The cheaper Sport Watch was the most popular model

Almost one million people ordered an Apple Watch on the first day it was available, according to an estimate by a research firm, showing strong consumer demand for an Apple product that debuted to mixed reviews.

Slice Intelligence, citing an analysis of e-receipt data from 9,080 online shoppers, said that about 957,000 people in the U.S. pre-ordered an Apple Watch on Friday, with each buyer purchasing an average of 1.3 watches and spending an average of $503.83 on each one.

More than 60% of consumers bought the cheapest iteration of the Apple Watch, the Sport model.

Many of the initial purchasers are committed Apple fans: 72% purchased an iPhone, iPad or Apple computer over the past two years, and 21% ordered an iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus in the last few months, according to Slice.

The black sport band was the most popular choice, as was the larger 42mm case.

Read next: Here’s What It Was Like Buying an Apple Watch Today

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MONEY Taxes

You’re Not Paying Enough in Taxes on These 7 Things

junk food (candy, soda and chips)
iStock

That's what proponents of various tax hikes, or entirely new taxes, would have you believe.

The last thing most consumers want to hear—especially around April 15—is that they should be paying more in taxes. But for a wide range of reasons, including health, safety, fairness, the environment, and simply raising more funds for government projects and infrastructure, some say higher taxes are needed in the following categories.

Alcohol
“In 1951, the federal excise tax on a standard shot of 80-proof whiskey was about 90 cents in today’s dollars. Today it stands at about 13 cents, a seven-fold decrease,” the Washington Post noted recently. “The real federal beer tax has fallen about fivefold over the same period, with a more modest drop for wine.”

That and other articles point to new research from the University of Florida, which shows that higher alcohol taxes can save lives—because people drink less when booze costs more. “Alcohol tax increases implemented across the country could prevent thousands of deaths from car crashes each year,” said Alexander C. Wagenaar, a UF College of Medicine professor and one of the researchers involved in the study.

Junk Food
Commonly referred as a junk food tax, the Healthy Dine Nation Act went into effect on April 1 in the Navajo Nation, which extends into parts of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The law adds a 2% tax on chips, fried foods, soda and other sweetened beverages, and other products with “minimal-to-no-nutritional value.” Funds raised from the tax are supposed to be allocated to health initiatives, including exercise facilities and community gardens. The tax is also aimed at dissuading people from eating poorly—diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are all big problems on the reservation.

The idea of a state or national junk food or “fat tax” surfaces from time to time, with proponents calling special attention to how costly obesity is. “America spends $96 billion treating diseases caused by cigarette smoking—far less than the $190 billion spent on obesity,” the Committee for Economic Development noted last fall. Yet some research indicates that to be noticeably effective in changing consumer behavior, a junk food tax has to be big, perhaps 20% or higher.

Soda
While a blanket junk food tax would include soda and sweetened beverages, some health advocates specifically target soda as especially appropriate for a new tax. The nation’s first soda tax was passed in Berkeley, Calif., last fall, and lawmakers in San Francisco have been trying to reduce soda consumption, via possible taxes and package warnings among other measures. Several other cities have tried (but failed) to institute soda taxes, and we’ll have to wait and see if Berkeley is a trendsetter or an oddball anomaly. One 2014 study suggests that a tax equivalent to 6¢ on each 12-ounce soda would significantly curb soda consumption.

Gas
The idea of hiking gas taxes has grown more popular since gas prices collapsed in the U.S. The national gas tax hasn’t budged since 1993, and the thinking is that people will be more open to higher gas taxes at a time when the cost of gas is cheap. Forecasts call for gas prices to stay low indefinitely, and that makes it more likely that a gas tax increase will happen.

Driving
One problem with taxing gas is that today’s drivers use less of it, thanks to the rise of alternative-fuel cars and across-the-board improvements in fuel efficiency. After all, when people use less gas, they pay less in gas taxes too, and plummeting gas taxes collected means that there are fewer funds to keep our highway infrastructure from crumbling further.

One frequently suggested alternative to taxing gas is taxing miles driven. This concept is riddled with unknowns, but we should all know more about how such a system would work in the near future. An experiment charging a few thousand drivers 1.5¢ per mile gets under way in Oregon starting this summer.

E-cigarettes
According to a 2015 Pew Charitable Trusts study, two states already tax e-cigarette sales (North Carolina and Minnesota), and proposals to add e-cigarette taxes have been on the table in at least a dozen more states. Among them, Ohio is considering a tax that would effectively triple the current cost of electronic cigarettes.

Online Shopping
Last month, a group of U.S. senators introduced a new version of the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow states to collect sales tax on purchases made in other states. Somewhere between one-half and three-quarters of American consumers already pay sales tax on Amazon.com purchases, but there are many examples of online purchases that still aren’t taxed.

“The free ride,” as a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial called it, “comes at a cost: a decline in tax revenue, with a corresponding decline in government service, and a system that unfairly favors online retailing behemoths at the expense of brick-and-mortar stores close to home.”

TIME movies

These Charts Show How Furious 7’s Second Weekend Is as Impressive as Its First

It smashed more box office records

Furious 7 stayed parked in the box office’s top spot for the second weekend in a row, adding $60.6 million in U.S. theaters for a total of $252.2 million.

The film is one of only a dozen to score more than $60 million in its domestic box office sales in the second weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. See how it stacks up against other films that smashed the box office in their second weekend:

It’s no surprise that Furious 7 is the Fast & Furious film that scored the franchise’s biggest second weekend at the box office after its debut weekend smashed several records. But Furious 7’s second weekend is also notable for how it managed to drop by only 59%—a testament to how its ahead-of-summer release has kept it away from heavyweights like Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters on May 1.

Last, Furious 7 is on track to be Universal Pictures’ biggest hit ever, with Furious 7 being the studio’s biggest opening and second weekend. Many attribute the success to Universal’s diverse casting and filming locations, which is linked to a strong North American turn-out among many minority groups. See how Furious 7‘s second weekend stacks up against other Universal films:

As for the rest of the box office, Variety reports, Home came in second place with $19 million, Get Hard took in $8.6 million and Cinderella nabbed $7.2 million.

Read next: This Is the Real Reason Furious 7 Is a Box Office Smash

TIME Economics

The Real Reason the Dollar Is So Strong Right Now

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Purestock—Getty Images/Purestock Close-up of American dollar bills

And why it could seriously hurt American business

When is a stronger U.S. dollar not a good thing? When it causes companies to sell fewer products overseas. That’s one of the big concerns at the moment among American CEOs, many of whom are worried about what the dollar’s strength against currencies like the euro and the yen mean for US exports–and corporate profits.

They have legitimate reason to worry. Each of the five major dips in U.S. corporate profitability since 1970 have occurred following reduced sales after periods of relative dollar strength. The Fed has recently expressed concerns about whether the dollar’s strength could hold back the US recovery, which has been lackluster to begin with. Wages are still growing at only around 2 %, not enough to push up consumer spending, which is the major driver of our economy. If US exports also begin to suffer, it could be difficult for the economy to sustain the 3% a year growth figure that is needed to create more jobs.

Some economists believe the dollar’s strength reflects the fact that the U.S. is still the prettiest house on the ugly block that is the global economy. (Certainly, to employ another metaphor, it’s the strongest leg on the global stool with China slowing sharply and the Eurozone debt crisis flaring back up as Greece looks likely to run out of money next month.) But I think it’s more about central bankers and their actions. The dollar’s strength reflects the Fed’s own recent indications that it will likely raise interest rates by the end of the year.

Indeed, the dollar’s strength almost perfectly tracks Fed statements about the coming end of easy money. The tightening of US monetary policy (or even the hint that policy will tighten at some point) has driven the dollar up (and oil down) even as Europe’s beginning of its own “QE” or quantitative easing program has driven the Euro down. None of it reflects the economic reality on the ground, but rather the fact that central bankers are, as investment guru Mohamed El-Erian frequently says, the “only game in town.” For more on what the stronger dollar might mean for consumers, companies and the economy as a whole, you can listen to Josh Barro from the New York Times and I discuss the topic on this week’s Money Talking.

TIME Gadgets

Netflix Just Totally Owned Apple Watch Fanboys

'Now you can view your favorite Netflix Originals directly from your wrist.'

Netflix has “unveiled” a new, brick-sized wrist watch that “isn’t THAT inconvenient” for watching movies and shows from your wrist.

The mock advertisement was conveniently timed to poke fun at the Apple Watch, which kicked off with a rush of pre-orders on Friday.

But with high demand pushing wait times for the device well into the summer, it looks like Apple will have the last laugh.

TIME Retail

Amazon Is Suing Sites That Sell Fake Reviews

Amazon Unveils Its First Smartphone
David Ryder—Getty Images Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos presents the company's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.

Sites offer to fill seller's product pages with 4 and 5-star reviews

Amazon is cracking down on sites that it says sell fake reviews to bolster products sold on the retailer’s website.

The online retail giant filed suit Wednesday against buyamazonreviews.con and buyazonreviews.com, according to The Seattle Times. The suit accuses the websites of false advertising, trademark infringement and violating consumer protection laws.

Buyamazonreviews.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, the website’s owner, Mark Collins, told the Times that Amazon’s claims were without merit, saying his site offers “unbiased and honest” reviews, not fake ones.

On its home page, buyamazonreviews.com offers “unlimited” four and five star reviews to its customers. “Our skilled writers look at your product, look at your competitor’s products and then write state of the art reviews that will be sure to generate sales for you,” the website states.

The case marks the first time Amazon has brought a lawsuit against a company said to be shilling fake reviews. Amazon is seeking triple damages and attorney’s fees, as well as a court order to stop the other sites from using the retailer’s name.

TIME Careers & Workplace

12 Simple Ways to Improve Your Website

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Getty Images

Try redesigning your home page

startupcollective

Question: What is one simple way I can improve my business website this year without totally overhauling it?

Try LiveChat

“We’ve been using LiveChat on many client projects and absolutely love it. It conquers a few key areas with one app — instant sales insights to know what a prospect is most interested in, real-time feedback on what’s confusing with your current site and an easy-to-use messaging system to contact you for support requests if you’re offline.” — Patrick Conley, Automation Heroes

Experiment With Video

“We found that integrating well-produced videos into a page can dramatically increase conversions. Integrating video is generally simple and can be done without redoing the basic design or navigational structure of your site. Of course, the hard part is generating great video content!” — John Rood, Next Step Test Preparation

Create Clear Calls to Action

“Many businesses lose customers because they do not provide a clear path for customers to navigate through their websites. Having clear calls to action that explicitly state what you would like the customer to do is an easy way to raise revenue with little work involved. Think about the most important business objectives you have, and then place logical CTA buttons throughout to support the goals.” — Lawrence Watkins, Great Black Speakers

Include Testimonials

“Putting up customer testimonials greatly improves your conversion rates and social proof. If you can add a few killer testimonials — in the form of tweets, videos or quotes — it will really increase your business website’s impact.” — Vanessa van Edwards, Science of People

Rewrite Web Copy From Your Customers’ Perspective

“So many business websites are written in a language that’s not relevant to their customers. Take a step back and look at your website copy through your customers’ eyes. You should first slash the word count by half, and then rewrite it with an eye for using plain speak versus jargon, put it into their words and facilitate skimming versus reading.” — Leah Neaderthal, FamilyBridge

A/B Test Potential Changes

“Test out changes before making them with tools such as Visual Website Optimizer or Optimizely. They’re affordable and simple to use. Sometimes, little changes can yield big gains.” — Josh Weiss, Bluegala

Upgrade Your Fonts

“You’d be surprised how different the same content looks with a few simple font changes. Make an update. Go modern. Websites are trending more toward a brochure style. Up the font size, and use a Google Web font to expand your options. It’s a simple change that yields a big effect. The same content will stand out in the crowd.” — Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

Add a Phone Number

“Great customer service is critical to creating happy customers. While most startups try to streamline their service with robust FAQs and a “24-hour reply” promise on emails, the most effective way to grow sales is to add a phone number on your site. Make it front and center — talk to people when they are on your site and ready to buy!” — Aaron Schwartz, Modify Watches

Refresh Your Home Page

“Redesign your home page with an eye for user experience. What type of information do new visitors need most? Figure out what resources help users make the best use of your site, and then relocate the links for your most important tools and information to the highest-visibility areas of your main Web page.” — Heather Schwarz-Lopes, EarlyShares

Create More White Space

“Find ways to create more white space around the most important areas of your website. Chances are, you’ve cluttered areas of your website as new ideas and content have emerged over the years. Take some time to review what is critical to your business and what is not. Remove what isn’t, and find new, cleaner ways to present the refined content.” — Janis Krums, OPPRTUNITY

Focus on Conversions

“What can you do to improve website conversion? It could mean making a phone number more prevalent on your home page if you’re a service business or making small tweaks to the wording and action items.” — Andrew Fayad, eLearning Mind

Pay Attention to Your Analytics

“Google Analytics is free and incredibly powerful if you use it correctly. Add the tracking codes to your site, and analyze the data at least twice a month. Pay attention to the customer flow and drop-off rates for each page. Make the pages that have the highest average time easier to find. Analyze the lowest-performing pages and look for ways to make those stickier to keep visitors engaged longer.” — Brittany Hodak, ZinePak

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

This article was originally published on StartupCollective.

TIME Careers & Workplace

10 Habits You Should Abandon Now to Improve Productivity

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Getty Images

Not all tasks are equally important

They say that you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyonce — so why does it feel like you’re never able to get caught up on your business to-do list?

Apart from not having your own team of personal assistants, stylists and other hangers-on, it could be your habits that are keeping you from achieving your business goals. Fortunately, habits can be broken.

Here are 10 habits you should ditch right away to improve your productivity:

1. Checking email constantly

Let’s face it: We’re all guilty of wasting precious time and mental focus by over-checking email. The impact of this habit is serious, though, as checking email too frequently has been linked to lower memory function, anxiety, depression and lower performance.

The best way to overcome this bad habit is to only check email at certain times. If necessary, you can create an auto-reply email saying “I check my emails at 10 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. I’ll respond to you as soon as possible.”

Related: 5 Habits That Are Destroying Your Ability to Lead

2. Scheduling weekly status meetings

Most of us have the sneaking suspicion that meetings are a huge time-waster, yet we keep scheduling them anyway. One of the biggest culprits is the weekly status meeting. Even if nothing has changed, everyone has to stop what they’re doing and attend a face-to-face meeting. Instead, try using a shared project management system,internal chat tool or Google Docs to track milestones and note what has been accomplished so far.

3. Working long hours

Studies have shown that those who work more than eight hours a day have lower productivity and higher burnout rates than those who don’t. Clocking these hours might look good, but you aren’t getting anything extra accomplished. Instead, work on being more focused during your work hours by using techniques such as time blocking. Your results will speak for themselves.

4. Waiting on the big project

When you look at your to-do list in the morning, what do you tackle first? If you tend to do the easier things first and wait on the big projects, you’ve got a bad habit. By the time you get to the important work — if you ever do — you’ll be tired, cranky and far less productive. By starting on the big project right away, you give it your best energy while saving the easy work for later in the day when you naturally have less focus and motivation.

5. Having coffee for breakfast

Almost everyone uses caffeine to wake up, but is that all you’re using? If you’re not eating breakfast, you’re missing out on important fuel for your day. After sleeping, your body is dehydrated and hungry. If you have coffee for breakfast, you’re not giving yourself the nutrients and liquids you need, which will undoubtedly have a big impact on your productivity and mood throughout the day.

6. Not getting eight hours of sleep

Speaking of sleep, do you get your full eight hours? Most American business owners don’t, and it’s killing their productivity. Research has shown that getting five hours or less of sleep several nights in a row affects you in the same way that having a 0.10 blood alcohol level does. In addition, you’ll be more prone to mistakes, have more headaches and be more easily distracted if you don’t get enough sleep.

Related: 3 Dirty Little Habits That Will Kill Your Entrepreneurial Dreams

7. Eating lunch at your desk

You may think that you’re being more productive by skipping your lunch hour, but what happens if you spill food or a drink on a key report — or your keyboard? You could ruin your productivity for the afternoon with a simple slip-up. In addition, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and overeat if you’re eating at your desk. Do your productivity a favor and get lunch away from your desk.

8. Not taking breaks

You may think you’re more productive if you keep plugging away, but studies show that people need breaks to maintain maximum productivity. Think of a break as a way to rest, allow your brain to make new creative connections, and refocus on what’s most important. Breaks also help prevent mistakes and keep us engaged with our work.

9. Giving every task equal importance

According to the 80/20 rule, 20 percent of our tasks will produce 80 percent of our results. So why are you treating all tasks as if they’re equally important? By focusing on the most important 20 percent — which may not be your most urgent work — you’ll be significantly more productive. There’s nothing more frustrating than spending a day “fighting fires” only to realize that you didn’t accomplish your most important work.

10. Multi-tasking

You may think you’re being more productive when you try to do two things at once, but you’re fooling yourself. Your brain may be good at switching quickly between tasks, but it still causes a loss of focus, creativity and productivity. By focusing on one task at a time, you’ll get more done overall.

Having bad habits is common, but they can be overcome. By focusing on breaking these 10 productivity-killing habits, you’ll dramatically improve your effectiveness, making it possible to accomplish whatever business goals you’ve set for yourself.

Related: Multitasking Can Damage Your Brain and Career, Studies Say

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

How This Entrepreneur Launched 52 Businesses in 1 Year

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Getty Images

“Take action, but without leaping”

Calling it the most transformative experience of his entrepreneurial life, 29-year-old Colin Grussing has officially made good on a dizzying vow: to build a new business every week for one year.

Entitled 52businesses, the project was derived by New Orleans-based Grussing last March to help destigmatize the early-stage startup paradigm. In addition to conceiving proprietary ventures, 52businesses pivoted partway through its mission to serve as a kind of collaborative consultant for existing startups and nonprofits. They welcomed ventures of every stripe, Grussing says, from scalable concepts to local mom-and-pops.

Looking back at the year, some favorites include Apocalypse Camp, a survival course for adults that recently blew past its Kickstarter goal; the task delivery app Meusu; and Operation Spark, a non-profit that teaches at-risk youth to build prototypes for local startups.

“Over time, we simultaneously became more open-minded and more concise in our approach,” says Grussing’s partner, Jason Seidman, who serves as 52businesses’ CEO.

Related: Inspired or Insane: This 28-Year-Old Vows to Launch a New Business Every Week for One Year

Given the project’s audacity, however, Grussing discusses success in relative terms. Today, 87 percent of the businesses continue to thrive, he says — by which he means they haven’t closed their doors yet. While 27 percent have made new hires, another 22 percent say they intend to do so within the next three months.

All told, the project has cost Grussing — who previously made money in real estate — roughly $100,000, he says.

While many of the businesses may have legs, its biggest money-maker to date has fins, Seidman jokes. During week five, not long after the Super Bowl, the team decided to vend a shark costume — even as Katy Perry’s legal team was blasting out cease and desist letters to other entrepreneurs attempting to profit off her campy halftime show.

“Sharks are so hot right now,” reads the costume’s carefully-worded ecommerce site, “everywhere from Katy, Texas, to Perryville, Mo.” At $165 a pop, Grussing says he’s raking in $1,000 to $2,000 per week.

Related: Young ‘Trep on Launching 25 Businesses in 25 Weeks: ‘I’m Loving Every Second’

If 52businesses has been invigorating on a professional level, it has wreaked havoc on Grussing’s personal life. Though Seidman found love during week 17 — a collaboration with a social entrepreneurship program at Tulane University — Grussing’s fiancé ultimately broke off their engagement due to the endeavor’s crushing weight.

“I treated her more like an intern than I should have,” Grussing concedes. However, the two have since reconciled and are planning a beach trip away from any work distractions — though Grussing says he wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to product-test a forthcoming floating beer koozie.

Indeed, the concept of a vacation doesn’t seem to exist in Grussing’s frenetic mind. Case in point: just one month after closing a chapter on 52business’ first year, the team is — yep — getting ready to start back up all over again.

But this time, they’re not going at it alone. While Grussing initially intended to subsidize 52businesses via corporate sponsorships, the team is now seeking investors to turn 52businesses into a permanent seed incubator program. “We’ve been talking to several different funds in the city, and a few outside, that just want to have those feet in the ground in New Orleans,” Seidman says.

Related: In New Orleans, ‘Tis the Season for Startups

The team also plans to harness lessons learned in order to improve their approach. One of the biggest stumbling blocks last year, Seidman says, was encountering participants who were “interested in the allure of entrepreneurship but who weren’t necessarily willing to put in the time it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

“Which was a big part of the mission,” Grussing adds, “to show people before they quit their jobs, whether or not they should quit their jobs.”

And at the end of the day, Grussing says, there are several actionable takeaways to be gleaned from the experiment. “Focus on being effective rather than efficient,” he says, and accept that surprises — both good and bad — are inevitably lurking around every turn.

“Take action, but without leaping,” Seidman suggests. “Utilize your network and your friends and your family to get a prototype — without quitting your job first, without dropping out of school. And then if the idea proves to continue growing, then it’s time to reevaluate those things.”

Related: Stress, Anxiety, Loneliness: How This Entrepreneur Lost Himself and Bounced Back Stronger

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com.

TIME Companies

This Company’s Stock Goes Up With Demand for Police Transparency

The share price of body camera maker TASER International has ticked up since last summer

The series of controversial incidents of police brutality that have rocked the U.S. in recent months has ignited a movement for increased transparency among law enforcement officers — and the evidence can be seen in the market performance of one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of police body cameras.

The public, activists and some lawmakers have clamored for greater police accountability in the wake of a string of deaths linked to law enforcement brutality, including the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner in July while being held in an illegal ‘chokehold’ by an NYPD officer, the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson in August, and Saturday’s shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina by a white cop during a traffic stop.

In response, many local police authorities have begun testing or using police body cameras which record their interactions with the public. And while detailed statistics on the adoption of such equipment are thin on the ground, activity on Wall Street suggests increased demand.

Though best known for its stun guns, TASER International has become the market leader among police body camera makers. Its stock price has ticked upward as it sealed agreements with high-profile police departments in Los Angeles and New York City, and analysts took note. Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz stated in a December research report that he believes TASER has an “opportunity for long-term growth.” Uerkwitz summarized his analysis of the Arizona-based company by stating it has a “shockingly strong story.” The chart below shows the company’s performance over the past year:

The company’s stock leapt again on Thursday on the back of a deal to provide body cameras and digital storage for the City of London police department, and it is now nearing a 52-week high. A smaller rival, Digital Ally, has also seen its share price soar over the past few days.

TASER CEO and co-founder Rick Smith says incidents like the one in South Carolina have shown the need for better availability of equipment and more transparency. “The [shooting of Walter Scott] to me feels even more impactful because we know more about it. And frankly, it’s hard to watch that video and not feel sick,” he tells TIME. “A year ago a number of agencies were questioning whether officer-worn cameras were a good idea. That is completely flipped.”

Though TASER’s overall performance may reflect a growing appetite for police body cameras, the market hasn’t yet reached anything like its full potential. President Barack Obama requested last December $263 million for a three-year investment package to increase body cameras nationwide. Meanwhile, other police departments, like the NYPD, have recently launched body camera pilot programs as they begin introducing the technology.

“Current surveys suggest a quarter of police departments are using to some extent body cameras,” ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley tells TIME. “There are 17,000 police departments roughly in the U.S. I’d expect that over the next three to five years, we’ll see the number of departments using them really skyrocket, up to 70 or 80 percent.”

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