Monday, August 17, 2020

Instagram is hit with $500 Billion class action lawsuit accusing the Facebook-owned platform of illegally harvesting up to 100 million users’ biometric data

A new class-action lawsuit has accused Facebook of illegally harvesting biometric data on its subsidiary platform Instagram with a photo-tagging tool that allegedly stores facial recognition data. The lawsuit, filed in state court in Redwood City, California, accuses the company of collecting, storing and profiting from the biometric data of more than 100 million Instagram users, without their knowledge or consent. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that the claims are false, and that Instagram does not use the face recognition services that are offered on Facebook. Instagram’s data policy states: ‘If we introduce face-recognition technology to your Instagram experience, we will let you know first, and you will have control over whether we use this technology for you.’ Last month, the social media company offered to pay $650 million to settle a lawsuit in which it was accused of illegally collecting biometric data through a photo-tagging tool provided to Facebook users. The new lawsuit accuses Facebook of similarly collecting and storing facial information of Instagram users. (Daily Mail)


Navy IT chief charged with sharing classified info with a Russian national

A Virginia-based U.S. Navy chief is facing court-martial on charges that he sent classified and “national defense” information to a Russian national, among other alleged offenses. A Chief Information Systems Technician has been held in pre-trial confinement since August 2019, according to his charge sheet. Assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, he is accused of obtaining an email containing classified information from a government computer in January 2019 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, and then sending it to a Russian national “with reason to believe the information could be used to injure the United States or benefit a foreign nation,” the charge sheet states. Several of the charges against him involve a Russian national whose name is redacted on the charge sheet, so it remains unclear how many Russian nationals the Navy chief was allegedly interacting with. He is also charged with relaying U.S. national defense information to a Russian national from October 2018 to January 2019, “information he had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation,” according to the charge sheet. (Navy Times)


US seizes digital currency accounts used by militant groups

The Justice Department said it has seized millions of dollars from cryptocurrency accounts that militant organization abroad, including al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, relied on to raise money for violent operations. The groups used the accounts to solicit donations for their causes, including through a bogus scam that officials say purported to sell protective gear for the coronavirus pandemic. Officials described it as the largest-ever seizure of digital currency funds related to terrorism. The legal move, which included undercover law enforcement work and forfeiture complaints filed in Washington’s federal court, is meant to deprive the organizations of fund needed to buy weapons and equipment and develop fighters and plots. (Associated Press)


Two evacuated by helicopter after hostile cow attack

A California Highway Police helicopter rescued an elderly couple who were injured while trying to flee from an angry cow. The pair encountered the bovine and her calf while hiking in Lynch Canyon Regional Park in Solano County. Apparently perceiving them to be a threat, the cow began chasing them, causing them to fall and hurt themselves. CHP Golden Gate Division Air Operations said in a Facebook post that when Helicopter H-32 arrived on the scene, it found the couple on a trail with the menacing livestock only feet away. The chopper hovered down and shooed the cow and calf by sounding the helicopter’s siren. A CHP paramedic determined that the couple required helicopter transport. The man and woman were hoisted one by one about 75 feet into the chopper and then flown to a waiting ambulance crew at the trail head. They were then taken to a hospital and treated for injuries. Firefighters and Medic Ambulance of Solano County aided in the rescue. (San Fransisco Gate)


Male-only draft is constitutional

A federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld the constitutionality of the all-male military draft system, citing a 1981 U.S. Supreme Court decision. In a decision that overturned a 2019 ruling by a Texas-based federal judge, a panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans said “only the Supreme Court may revise its precedent.” The case was argued in March and was the result of a lawsuit by the National Coalition for Men and two men challenging the male-only draft. They argued that the 1981 case was decided at a time when women were largely absent from combat. (AP News)


Chicago looters attacked Ronald McDonald House with sick children inside

The Ronald McDonald House in Chicago was vandalized during looting early in the morning while families and their sick children huddled inside, the charity said. The Ronald McDonald House in the Streeterville neighborhood of the city’s Near North Side provides support for sick children and their families while the child receives medical treatment at nearby Lurie Children’s Hospital. The charity said more than 30 families and their sick children were sleeping inside when the looters, who had taken over downtown, ransacking stores and vandalizing properties, started attacking the building. The building was placed on lockdown during the commotion. Several windows on the front of the building were smashed, and the front door had to be boarded up. No damage was caused to the inside of the house and no one was injured. The charity said it will remain open despite the potential dangers. (CBS 2)


Georgia Store Suggests $20 Refundable Deposit For White Customers To Shop There

A vintage-clothing store in Savannah, Georgia, has come under fire for a promotion they posted on Facebook in which they stated they would require white customers to pay a $20 refundable deposit to book an appointment to browse the store while waiving the fee for people of color. Civvies on Broughton wrote, “As a mostly white staff with white ownership, we do not feel comfortable upholding a digital and financial barrier which could prevent BIPOC from shopping at our store at this time on top of the limitations already made by online booking.” The store, which sells new and recycled clothing, told potential white patrons that they could decline to pay the deposit on the booking form and a manager would reach out to discuss other options. Civvies went on to say, “however, that they would not accept appointments with any white customers who are simply refusing to pay the fee because they believe it’s ‘unethical.” After getting much complaints from the community, the store later apologized on Facebook. (WJCL)


Bald eagle attacks $950 government drone, sending it to bottom of Lake Michigan

A bald eagle launched an aerial assault on a drone operated by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE), ripping off a propeller and sending the aircraft into Lake Michigan. The attack happened July 21st when the drone was mapping shoreline erosion near Escanaba in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to document and help communities cope with high water levels. The Environmental quality analyst and drone pilot said he had completed about seven minutes of the mapping flight when satellite reception became spotty. He pressed a button to return the $950 drone to him and was viewing his video screen when the drone began to twirl. “It was like a really bad roller coaster ride,” he said, after looking up and saw the eagle flying away, apparently unhurt by its confrontation with technology. Two birdwatchers who were nearby saw the bird attack something but told officials they didn’t realize it was a drone. The drone sent 27 warning notifications in the 3.5 seconds that it took to spiral to the water, including one noting that a propeller was missing. A search of the shoreline failed to find the drone. Data later revealed that it landed in 4 feet of water about 150 feet offshore. (Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy)


Teen uses makeshift tourniquet to save man’s life after motorcycle crash

A 41-year-old man is in the hospital fighting for his life after a motorcycle crashed in Fort Myers, Florida. Family members said they were coming home from a lake trip when they began to experience car problems. They said he pulled over to get help when a motorcycle crashed into him, severing his leg. His girlfriend immediately tried to use her shirt as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. That’s when her 16-year old son jumped in to help. She said he found bungee cords in the car to use as a tourniquet and held them on his leg until first responders arrived. “I had to do what I had to do to keep him alive,” said the teen. The man is currently in the hospital fighting for his life as he has numerous injuries including an amputated leg. He was put back on a ventilator. His girlfriend keeps telling him “I love you, keep strong, never give up, you’ve got this,” Hayes said. Fort Myers, Florida Police confirmed they are investigating the crash. (ABC 7)


Pentagon to launch task force to investigate UFO sightings

The Pentagon is forming a new task force to investigate UFOs that have been observed by US military aircraft, according to two defense officials. The Deputy Secretary of Defense will help oversee the task force, which is expected to be officially unveiled in the next few days, according to the officials. Previous efforts to look into what the Pentagon dubs unidentified aerial phenomena were led by the US Navy as many of the documented encounters involved their aircraft. The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Members of Congress and Pentagon officials have long expressed concerns about the appearance of the unidentified aircraft that have flown over US military bases, posing a risk to military jets. There is no consensus on their origin with some believing they may be drones potentially operated by earthly adversaries seeking to gather intelligence rather than extraterrestrials. (CNN)


A man hired a hitman to kill child he sexually abused

A Camden County, New Jersey man who coaxed sexually explicit images and videos from a child online allegedly paid a hitman $20,000 on the dark web to kill the child, authorities said. The 31-year-old man of Haddonfield, New Jersy was arrested and charged with murder-for-hire for hiring a hitman to kill the child victim of his abuse, a U.S. Attorney said in a statement. The man pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child by sexual contact in 2017, but allegedly paid $20,000 in Bitcoin to get rid of the 14-year-old victim, the statement said. Special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security nabbed the man by combing through communication he allegedly had with the administrator of a website on the dark web, where he began to ask about how to murder a 14-year-old, according to the criminal complaint. The messages allegedly show the man using the handle “agentisai,” negotiating a hit order on his victim, unsure if the target was too young, the complaint said. The website the man allegedly communicated with was offering hit orders and other violent crimes in exchange for cryptocurrency, the complaint said. The dark web is encrypted online content, but is often used to host illegal marketplaces. (


Cop accused of stealing $10K from resident

A Palisades Park, New Jersey police sergeant was accused of stealing $10,000 from a borough resident, authorities said. The 50-year-old Police Sargent was arrested and charged with theft by unlawful taking or disposition, according to Bergen County, New Jersey Prosecutor. The officer was suspended from his position with the 38-member police department. Police received a complaint from a resident that the officer had taken the money and alerted the prosecutor’s office confidential investigations unit, the Prosecutor said in a statement. Prosecutors did not provide more details on the allegation. (North Jersy)


 Justice Department finds Yale biased against Asian, white applicants

The Department of Justice notified Yale University that it has found the university illegally discriminates against Asian-American and white applicants in its undergraduate admissions process. The two-year investigation focused on Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, after a complaint was made by Asian-American groups at Yale, according to a press release. “Unlawfully dividing Americans into racial and ethnic blocs fosters stereotypes, bitterness, and division. It is past time for American institutions to recognize that all people should be treated with decency and respect and without unlawful regard to the color of their skin,” said the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “In 1890, Frederick Douglass explained that the ‘business of government is to hold its broad shield over all and to see that every American citizen is alike and equally protected in his civil and personal rights.’ The Department of Justice agrees and will continue to fight for the civil rights of all people throughout our nation.” The president of nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions said “We applaud the Justice Department’s extensive investigation into Yale’s racially discriminatory admissions policies. The Justice Department’s findings of decades-old, purposeful racial discrimination in admissions is not surprising since all of the Ivy League and other competitive universities admit to using racial classifications and preferences in their admissions policies. This investigation reinforces the need for all universities to end race-based admissions policies.” (New Haven Register)


Monday Explodes With:

  • Baby Boomer’s Recognition Day
  • Black Cat Appreciation Day
  • Cupcake Day (Third Monday)
  • I Love My Feet Day
  • Massachusetts Day
  • Meaning of “Is” Day
  • National Nonprofit Day
  • Thrift Shop Day

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