Enjoy our roundup of stories that piqued our interest this week.
This week we tackle the following:
- Nebraska school administrators approve testing for nicotine in students involved in extracurricular activities - Steps in the right direction
- Millions of Venmo transactions scraped in warning over privacy settings - Another platform with wide acceptance but little regard for risk
- In light of state tobacco law, St. Charles raises possession age to 21 - Takes state purchase law to the next level
- DA announces biggest auto theft scam in San Diego County history - Cars were stolen through identity theft ring
The dramatic increase in vaping and e-cigarettes convinced Fairbury Public Schools officials they should test students for nicotine as part of the random drug tests given to students involved in extracurricular activities.
“Vaping and smoking in our view is reaching epidemic proportions,” said Fairbury Superintendent Stephen Grizzle. “It’s just a way we can deter kids from potentially being addicted to nicotine. Since smoking and using vaping products are against our policies, it makes sense to include that.”
A computer science student has scraped seven million Venmo transactions to prove that users’ public activity can still be easily obtained, a year after a privacy researcher downloaded hundreds of millions of Venmo transactions in a similar feat.
The peer-to-peer mobile payments service faced criticism last year after Hang Do Thi Duc, a former Mozilla fellow, downloaded 207 million transactions. The scraping effort was possible because Venmo payments between users are public by default. The scrapable data inspired several new projects — including a bot that tweeted out every time someone bought drugs.
Millions of Venmo transactions scraped in warning over privacy settings
To avoid sending mixed messages from a law enforcement perspective, St. Charles aldermen on Monday unanimously approved raising the possession age to 21 within city limits. The move aims to keep tobacco and alternative nicotine products out of the hands of minors and underage young adults, especially in the high schools, Police Chief James Keegan said.
"If you need to be 21 to buy it, you should be 21 to possess it," he said. "Keeping possession (consistent) with sales ... puts us in a better position from the city to have a united front."
The biggest auto theft scheme in San Diego history has come to an end. District Attorney Summer Stephen announced Thursday that more than 100 vehicles were stolen though identity theft and fraud dating back to 2016.
"They would create fake lines of credit, fake credit histories, fake documents so that they could use it in their schemes," said CHP Captain James Portilla. "He would create fake websites so if an institution wanted to verify info on a loan application they would look like there was a legit business."