Congress votes to wipe out landmark internet privacy protections

Congress sent proposed legislation to President Donald Trump on Tuesday that wipes away landmark online privacy protections, the first salvo in what is likely to become a significant reworking of the rules governing internet access in an era of Republican dominance.

In a party-line vote, House Republicans freed internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules had also required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves.

The Senate has already voted to nullify those measures, which were set to take effect at the end of this year. If Trump signs the legislation, as expected, providers will be able to monitor their customers’ behavior online and, without their permission, use their personal and financial information to sell highly targeted ads — making them rivals to Google and Facebook in the $83 billion online advertising market.

The providers could also sell their users’ information directly to marketers, financial firms and other companies that mine personal data — all of whom could use the data without consumers’ consent. In addition, the Federal Communications Commission, which initially drafted the protections, will be forbidden from issuing similar rules in the future.

Search engines and streaming video sites already collect usage data on consumers. But consumer activists claim that internet providers may know much more about a person’s activities because they can see all of the sites a customer visits.

And while consumers can easily abandon sites whose privacy practices they don’t agree with, it is far more difficult to choose a different internet provider, the activists said. Many Americans have a choice of only one or two broadband companies in their area, according to federal statistics.

Advocates for tough privacy protections online called Tuesday’s vote “a tremendous setback for America.”

“Today’s vote means that Americans will never be safe online from having their most personal details stealthily scrutinized and sold to the highest bidder,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.

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76 fake $100 bills discovered in Walmart store safe

DELTONA, Fla. – A Walmart employee in Volusia County was arrested Monday night after a fellow employee noticed counterfeit bills in the Deltona store’s safe over the weekend.

On Sunday, an employee noticed the fake bills in the safe’s $10,000 cash bundle were counterfeit and told a manager who took a closer look at the bills, officials said.

The 76 bills totaling $7,600 were blue in appearance, each having a different thickness, texture with “FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY” printed on them, officials said.

Officials said the manager told them the bills were wrapped in a bundle marked “DO NOT USE.”

When loss prevention officer went back to the safe on Monday to take another look at the counterfeit money, the bundle marked was still there, but the fake bills inside were missing, officials said.

After a review of the surveillance footage, officials said that Walmart employee Xiomara Matias-Cruz, 32, was on the footage.

Matias-Cruz who worked in the cash office went into the office on Monday at 6 a.m. to count and verify the money in the safe, which was a part of her normal shift duties.

“Then she found the white “DO NOT USE” package, opened it, made a phone call and appeared to take something from the bundle,” the release said.

Officials said she then left the store and drove off in her vehicle only 15 minutes into her work shift.

Further surveillance video review found that Matias-Cruz opened the safe in the cash office on Friday morning.

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Facebook says police can’t use its data for ‘surveillance’

Facebook is cutting police departments off from a vast trove of data that has been increasingly used to monitor protesters and activists.

The move, which the social network announced Monday, comes in the wake of concerns over law enforcement’s tracking of protesters’ social media accounts in places such as Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore. It also comes at a time when chief executive Mark Zuckerberg says he is expanding the company’s mission from merely “connecting the world” into friend networks to promoting safety and community.

Although the social network’s core business is advertising, Facebook, along with Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram, also provides developers access to users’ public feeds. The developers use the data to monitor trends and public events. For example, advertisers have tracked how and which consumers are discussing their products, while the Red Cross has used social data to get real-time information during disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.

But the social networks have come under fire for working with third parties who market the data to law enforcement. Last year, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter cut off access to Geofeedia, a start-up that shared data with law enforcement, in response to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU published documents that made references to tracking activists at protests in Baltimore in 2015 after the death of a black man, Freddie Gray, while in police custody and also to protests in Ferguson, Mo., in 2014 after the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old.

On Monday, Facebook updated its instructions for developers to say that they cannot “use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

The company also said, in an accompanying blog post, that it had kicked other developers off the platform since it had cut ties with Geofeedia.

Until now, Facebook hasn’t been explicit about who can use information that users post publicly. This can include a person’s friend list, location, birthday, profile picture, education history, relationship status and political affiliation — if they make their profile or certain posts public.

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9 accused in organized $102K theft from Safeway

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A group of 9 people is accused of stealing more than $102,000 from Safeway-Albertson stores, according to police.

The 5-week investigation into the suspect organized retail crime (ORC) began in October 2016.

ORC typically involves more than one individual, said Scott Chapman, the Director of Asset Protection for Albertson-Safeway. He said the groups usually steal merchandise and sell it on the black market.

“They’re in business to make money, whether it be for drugs (or) whether it be for re-selling,” Chapman said.

ORC can result in higher prices for consumers and less taxes for state and local governments, he said.

The thieves will steal in bulk quantity. Loss prevention officers showed KOIN 6 News the lengths the thieves will go.

Some will use what’s known in the industry as a “booster bag,” which is typically a large handbag lined with tinfoil. Other thieves will load up a shopping cart and simply leave without paying. Those are called “push outs.”

Chapman said ORC investigators are seeing thieves steal high-value items that are popular across a wide demographic of individuals such as laundry detergent, teeth whiting strips, allergy medicine and nutritional supplements.

“It’s a quick turn for them,” Chatman said. “They can sell it quickly.”

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