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Questions over Chula Vista's new privacy policy

 December 5, 2022 at 5:00 AM PST

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, December 5th.

There’s controversy over Chula Vista's new privacy policy.

More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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The San Diego Unified School District received a cybersecurity threat last week.

The potential data breach could impact personnel files, grades, and confidential health information.

In a written statement to parents and staff, Friday, Superintendent. Lamont Jackson, said…

“The district acted swiftly to take steps to secure the network, to launch an investigation, and to prevent any disruptions to operations.”

All staff passwords were immediately changed…and passwords for all students will also be changed in the coming days..

Authorities are investigating who is responsible.

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The San Diego Police Department on Friday began citing street vendors who violate the city's new sidewalk vending ordinance.

The law prohibits street vendors of any kind from selling in the Gaslamp District.

Vendors who continue to sell in “No Vending Zones” are now going to be cited.

 The fines can range from 200 to one-thousand-dollars, and other possible penalties.  

Although street vendors are not permitted in the Gaslamp District, vendors can obtain a sidewalk permit and conduct business in other designated areas.

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Flu and Covid-19 cases are both up across San Diego County, and that’s before considering any potential Thanksgiving surge cases.

New case numbers will be released on Thursday, when the county’s Respiratory Virus Surveillance Report is updated.

Nearly 10-thousand Covid cases were reported in the county last month.

And since July, there have been nearly 13-thousand flu cases reported.

This time last year, only 424 flu cases were reported.

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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Chula Vista officials claim a new policy bans the sale of data picked up by police surveillance tools.

But privacy advocates warn most personal information could still lawfully be sold.

KPBS Investigative reporter Amita Sharma explains.

For years, Chula Vista resident and activist Pedro Rios has advocated for stronger privacy protections in the city.  Here he is last year speaking just steps away from city hall. “We should not give up on the expectation of Privacy. Otherwise, we are undoing a fundamental principle that the US Constitution affords us.” His words resonated in this border city – called one of the most surveilled in the country. Rios and others were angry over revelations that Chula Vista police had shared data collected from its license plate readers with federal immigration officials. “....We should be more in front of the door of the City Council calling out for the need to have these oversight mechanisms and to hold accountable, not only the Police Department but also city officials.” In April Rios joined a working group of residents, privacy advocates and tech experts. Their mission? Help Chula Vista create new surveillance guidelines. The goal was to balance police use of surveillance tools like license plate readers and drones with protecting residents’ privacy rights. The group had high hopes. But last month when Chula Vista City Council ultimately passed a privacy protection policy, Rios was disappointed.  “....For me, it's unclear exactly what the policy does.” The policy suggests that Chula Vistans’ personal information can’t be sold. But is that really true? “In a word, no.” Albert Fox Cahn is executive director of the nonprofit New York-based Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. “This policy has a lot of details, but it also has a lot of loopholes. And from my reading, those exceptions swallowed the rule. “ Cahn says exceptions in the policy include any information recorded in a place where people don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. That means any  details captured in public places wouldn’t be covered, no matter how sensitive. “....Whether it's your geolocation data, your biometric data, information about your phone number, your email address. Much of the information that's covered by this policy is then simply exempted under that exception because a lot of the surveillance that is shared with vendors is recorded in public.” Even worse, Cahn says the policy exempts information gathered from surveillance that’s part of an active criminal investigation. He says this is the policy’s weakest link.  “When you drive your car through the city, the automated license plate reader can track it. When you're sitting in your backyard, a drone could surveil you. When you're out about almost anywhere in public, you could be captured by the real time command center.” Part of what spawned the push for a privacy policy was a contract Chula Vista signed with Motorola Solutions in 2020. That deal gave Motorola wide access to police surveillance data and allowed the tech conglomerate to profit from it. California privacy advocate Brian Hofer says the city’s new policy does little to stop Chula Vista from entering into a similar contractAGAIN. “It does not expressly prohibit the selling. It sort of seems to imply that potential restrictions might be incorporated into future use policies.” Hofer says it’s also important to note that the Chula Vista City Council opted for a policy on privacy rights instead of a law. The resident working group specifically asked for a law. “The leadership of Chula Vista never had any desire to really take this seriously. If they really wanted to be accountable to the public and say, we think these things are truly important, then they would give it the weight of law and they would hold themselves accountable.” City council members did not make themselves available to KPBS for an interview before this story was broadcast. But some said at a meeting last month that a new law would be premature. Amita Sharma, KPBS News.

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Last week, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order responding to the fentanyl crisis in San Diego.

It directs the San Diego police department to focus more of its efforts on disrupting sales of the drug.

In 20-21, more than 800 San Diegans died of fentanyl-related overdoses… and many of them were homeless.

Sam Quinones is a journalist and author of the book “The Least of Us: True Tales of America and Hope in the time of Fentanyl and Meth.”

He joined KPBS’s Jade Hindmon to talk about how we got to this point.

How has fentanyl become such a major problem, how did we get here?

This executive order from the Mayor would increase enforcement measures against the drug. How well has this strategy worked in other cities?

That was author and journalist Sam Quinones, speaking with KPBS Midday Edition host, Jade Hindmon.

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Homelessness can happen fast.

And for many, the pathway out can be long and difficult.

KPBS reporter Jacob Aere says a Friday event in Lakeside brought together organizations dedicated to helping people get off of the streets and back into society.

The goal of the Homeless Resource Fair in Lakeside was to provide unhoused people with access to food, clothing and services they need … and a chance at stability. Superior Court Judge Roderick (ROD-uh-rick) Shelton says it’s crucial people experiencing homelessness get more than just a shower and a warm meal. They also need legal help. “So what we're doing here is that if the person may have a warrant from some small infraction, or some small misdemeanor case, we can take care of all that here today.” The event offered this help … through the Homeless Court Program …with attorneys present on site.  Friday’s event was the 6th Homeless Resource Fair held in San Diego County since November 2021. Jacob Aere, KPBS News.

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Southwestern College and S-D-S-U have just received grants to support more Hispanic students in healthcare careers.

KPBS Education reporter M.G. Perez has details.

More than 70-percent of students attending Southwestern College are Hispanic. Those who want to go into nursing or any medical career will benefit most from the quarter of a million dollars in grant money that will now support their continued education. The funding comes from Bank of America which has also awarded San Diego State with the same grant. Both schools will use the money in developing curriculum, providing staff and job placements for their students in the healthcare industry…which was severely strained during COVID. DR. Mark Sanchez is President of Southwestern College “If this were ever to happen again..we will have the people who can respond to the needs of the community. I think the pandemic exposed just how important this work is to invest these types of collaborations.” The grant money is already funding programs that will support students graduating next spring. MGP KPBS News

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They don’t hold a job, they don't pay rent and they poop all over the place.

Sea lions have made the Oceanside harbor their home… and boat owners there don’t like it.

KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne has the story.

Boat owners in the Oceanside Harbor have some new dock-mates…  sea lions.And they’re causing  damage. Devan Halford cleans boats at the Harbor.“ they’ve sunk boats, their oily skin, their excrement gets on the side of boats, dries like concrete and they’ve been an absolute nuisance.”Harbor staff say they routinely shoo sea lions away by pounding the dock with a broom handle.  The sound and vibration  tends to move them along.Staff recommend boat owners “politely” move the sea lions off the docks.Michael Millstein is with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.They are the agency in charge of the protection of marine mammals and protected species.So anything that could lead essentially that could lead to their death is, is off limitsMillstein recommends the public keep a safe distance, do not feed the seal lions, and dispose of bait as far away from harbors as possible.TT KPBS News

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Coming up.... Was the city of San Diego’s street sweeper naming contest legit? We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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We’ve been updating you on the city of San Diego’s naming contest for its newest electric street sweeper.

The contest was a trend San Diego hopped on among cities to hold naming contests.

But was the city’s contest legit?

KPBS reporter Claire Trageser says not really.

This week San Diego officials announced that residents had spoken and the winning name for the new street cleaning machine was “SWEEP-E.” But it wasn’t a true popularity contest. The city received more than 300 name submissions. They ranged from “Bristleface McGee, Defender of the Waterways” to “Meryl Sweep.” But no one tabulated the results to see what names were suggested most. So says city spokesperson Anthony Santacroce. “The number of times that we saw any particular suggestion didn't really factor into our decision making. We also had to exclude any offensive or inappropriate suggestions." The city also excluded “Sweepy McSweepface.” That’s a variation of the legendary Boaty McBoatface …   the name UK residents chose for a government research boat. CT KPBS NEWS.

To see a full list of the names submitted, head to KPBS-dot-org.

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Prepare for some season’s beatings as Santa takes on a group of mercenaries in the new film Violent Night.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando spoke with actor David Harbour about delivering a different kind of holiday cheer.

As Violent Night opens, Santa’s feeling depressed that the holiday he created to encourage generosity has gone commercial and centers on greed. You ain’t driving are you… I steer a little but the reindeer do most of the work. And things go from bad to worse as he arrives at a house where mercenaries are holding a family captive. I am in a room with my entire family and there are 2 bad men with guns watching us… I need to get you out of there… So Santa has to step up his game and deliver more than gifts. David Harbour plays the put upon Santa. DAVID HARBOUR What I found was really unique about it was you go on this wild action ride, action comedy ride. And then at the end, you come out with that Christmas moving thing of, like, believing in the spirit of Christmas. Harbour brings a lot of heart but also a lot of carnage as he decks the halls with the blood of the naughty crooks in this R-rated holiday comedy. Think Die Hard but with Santa as the reluctant hero taking care of business, and ho ho ho replacing yippe ka yay [bleep]. So basically, the perfect Christmas movie for action fans. Beth Accomando, KPBS News.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

Chula Vista officials claim a new policy bans the sale of data picked up by police surveillance tools, but privacy advocates warn most personal information could still lawfully be sold. In other news, Southwestern College and San Diego State University have just received grants to support more Hispanic students in healthcare careers. Plus, sea lions have made themselves quite at home at the Oceanside Harbor, and boat owners there don’t like it.