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Legal Roundup: New Anti-Hate Initiative, General Arrested in Mexican Missing Student Case, Hospital Bomb Threats, and More

It has been a busy legal week for security, with new justice initiatives launched, court cases underway, and a variety of investigations making significant progress. To keep you caught up, Security Management compiled a roundup of some of the legal and crime stories we’ve been tracking.

U.S. Justice Department Launches Anti-Hate Initiative

All 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will host a new nationwide initiative to combat unlawful acts of hate during the next year as part of the new United Against Hate program. The goal of the program is to connect community groups to federal, state, and local law enforcement to improve understanding and reporting of hate crimes; build trust between law enforcement and communities; and create and strengthen alliances between law enforcement and other government partners and groups to combat unlawful acts of hate, according to a U.S. Department of Justice news release.

Program topics will include defining hate crimes versus hate incidents; the importance of reporting unlawful acts of hate; providing options for responding to hate incidents that are not federal or state crimes; and distinguishing unlawful conduct from protected First Amendment activity (speech that advocates violence vs. protected speech).

Three Military Members Arrested in Missing Student Case

Mexican authorities arrested a general and two other army members for alleged connections to the 2014 disappearance of 43 teacher’s college students in Mexico, NBC Washington reported.

In August, a government report claimed that the army was responsible for at least not stopping the abductions—a soldier had infiltrated the student group, so the army was kept informed about what was happening. Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas said the abduction was a “state crime,” in which officials from all levels were involved, and that the army is responsible “for action, omission, or negligence.”

Woman Charged with Calling in Fake Bomb Threat Against Hospital

Authorities arrested Catherine Leavy, 37, yesterday for allegedly calling in a fake bomb threat at Boston Children’s Hospital. The caller said, “There is a bomb on the way to the hospital, you better evacuate everybody you sickos,” court documents said. The hospital initiated a lockdown, but no explosives were found.

The threat was allegedly made in response to the hospital’s surgical program for transgender youths, which has resulted in a wave of harassment and threats recently, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Uber Ex-Security Chief Faces Testimony from Hackers, Company Attorney

The legal saga of former Uber security chief Joe Sullivan continues. In his criminal obstruction and concealment trial, multiple sources took the stand this week to testify about the company’s lax security and the alleged coverup of a data breach.

Hackers Vasile Mereacre and Brandon Glover modeled their attack off others they had researched in online forums, and they were surprised at how easily they breached Uber’s databases, Courthouse News reported. They downloaded data for 57 million app users and then contacted Uber to demand a ransom. According to another witness, former Uber attorney Craig Clark, Sullivan asked about how the incident could be funneled through the company’s bug bounty program, so it could be categorized as a legitimate white hat vulnerability report—not a data breach that the company would be obligated to report.

Former Police Detective Indicted for Sexual Assaults

A federal grand jury returned a six-count indictment charging former Kansas City Police Department detective Roger Golubski, 69, with federal civil rights crimes for sexually assaulting two victims. The indictment alleges that his conduct included sexual assault, aggravated sexual abuse, and kidnapping. The FBI has been investigating whether Golubski, a white detective, sexually assaulted Black women in Kansas City and exchanged drugs for information during criminal investigations, the AP reported.

If convicted, Golubski faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Golubski has pled not guilty.

Investigation Finds Racial Disparity in School Discipline

Black and Latino students were suspended more often than white students at Illinois’ largest school district, Township High School District 211, and they were disciplined more often for subjective reasons like dress code violations. They were also referred more frequently to police, who regularly issued costly tickets for misbehavior, according to an investigation by ProPublica.

Data from the school district showed that Black and Latino students received about 65 percent of the tickets police issued to high school students since the start of the 2018-19 school year, despite the fact that those groups make up only 32 percent of district enrollment.

The Illinois attorney general’s office is looking into whether the groups were unfairly disciplined at school.

China Proposes Increased Cybersecurity Penalties

The Cyberspace Administration of China proposed a series of amendments to the country’s cybersecurity law this week, including an amendment that would raise the size of fines for some violations, Reuters reported. For instance, critical information infrastructure operators that use products or services that had not undergone security reviews could be fined up to 5 percent of their previous year’s revenue or 10 times the amount they paid for the product. Fines for some violations could climb from 100,000 yuan ($14,371) to 1 million yuan ($142,600).

South Korea Fines Google and Meta for Privacy Violations

South Korea’s Personal Information and Protection Commission fined Google 69.2 billion won ($50 million) and Meta 30.8 billion won ($22 million) for tracking consumers’ online behavior without their consent and using that data for targeted advertisements, the AP reported. The fines are the largest imposed by South Korea for privacy law violations.

Both companies refuted the commission’s findings.