MON: Judge Dismisses NM Privacy Suit Against Google, + More

Sep 28, 2020

US Judge Dismisses New Mexico Privacy Claims Against GoogleSusan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

A U.S. district judge has dismissed New Mexico’s privacy claims against Google, but New Mexico's top prosecutor vowed Monday to continue the legal fight to protect child privacy rights.

The judge concluded in a ruling Friday that federal laws and regulations do not require direct consent from parents when schools participate in Google’s education platforms.

Google had asked that the case be dismissed, saying it hasn’t violated any laws as it is required only to make reasonable efforts to provide notice and obtain consent.

Under the ruling New Mexico can amend its complaint, and Attorney General Hector Balderas said Monday he will continue to litigate to protect child privacy rights.

The lawsuit was filed in February, citing violations of state law and the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It followed a separate legal challenge in 2018 that alleged Twitter, Google and mobile app companies violated state and federal laws by collecting personal information through apps without consent.

The cases were initiated as public concern has escalated about whether information regarding online interests, browsing and buying habits were slipping into the hands of data brokers without consent.

An Associated Press investigation in 2018 found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones were storing user location even if users turned off location history.

US Latino Civil Rights Group Moves 2021 Convention OnlineRussell Contreras, Associated Press

The oldest Latino civil rights group in the U.S. has decided to move its 2021 national convention online over the uncertainty caused by COVID-19.

The League of United Latin American Citizens' board of directors voted Saturday to hold a virtual gathering for its members instead of a July 2021 in-person gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The state currently limits the number of people for large gatherings and the group's national conventions typically attract thousands.

The group still plans to hold a national convention in Albuquerque in 2023 because the city and the LULAC's local chapters made financial commitments to hold an event in the city. The 2022 convention in Puerto Rico also remains scheduled.

Founded in 1929 by Mexican American World War I veterans, LULAC has been involved in crucial school desegregation and civil rights cases involving Hispanics. This year, LULAC has expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and for removing monuments offensive to Native Americans and African Americans.

Torres Small, Herrell Meet In 1st Debate In Close House Race - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

Democratic Rep. Xochitl Torres Small and Republican challenger Yvette Herrell have finally met in a debate in southern New Mexico's closely watched U.S. House race. 

Torres Small stressed "bipartisanship" during the KOAT-TV/Albuquerque Journal-sponsored debate Sunday while Herrell tried to link the Democrat to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Herrell said she would be a "conservative voice" and pointed to her "Christian values." 

Torres Small repeatedly highlighted her votes on oil and gas that bucked the Democratic Party. 

The race is a rematch of the 2018 campaign where Torres Small won by less than 4,000 votes to flip the traditionally Republican-leaning district. However, Herrell avoided televised debates then and faced criticism for failing to campaign in Hispanic areas.

This time, Herrell is campaigning in the Hispanic-majority Doña Ana County and has challenged Torres Small to multiple debates.

State numbers show that new GOP voter registrations outpaced Democrats in the 2nd Congressional District by 10,000 — more than twice the margin of victory in 2018.

Herrell campaign manager Michael Horanburg said those numbers show there is "energy and momentum" with Republicans to recapture the seat.

The Torres Small campaign said the Las Cruces Democrat has worked with Republicans, Democrats, and President Donald Trump on various proposals.

Biden Endorses Luján For US Senate Bid In New Mexico - Associated Press

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is throwing his support behind Democratic U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján for U.S Senate in New Mexico. 

The former vice president said Sunday that Luján is a "proven leader" who has helped craft legislation like the CARES Act – the COVID-19 relief bill. 

Biden also cited Luján's work on health care reform while in the U.S. House. 

Luján and Republican Mark Ronchetti are vying for an open U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico. Democratic U.S. Sen. Tom Udall is retiring. 

Luján and Ronchetti have traded attack ads on who is the better candidate for health care reform in New Mexico.

New Mexico Reports 159 New Coronavirus Cases And No Deaths - Associated Press

Health officials in New Mexico on Sunday reported 159 new confirmed coronavirus cases with no additional deaths. 

The latest numbers increased the statewide totals to 28,844 cases and 870 known deaths since the pandemic began. 

Of the 159 new cases, New Mexico Department of Health officials say 32 were in Bernalillo County, 29 in Eddy County and 20 in Doña Ana County. 

The spread rate has increased slightly since early September. Officials say the increase was expected after some restrictions were lifted and it's likely that increased travel around the Labor Day holiday had a role.

Universities To Treat Water In Navajo Communities - Theresa Davis Albuquerque Journal, Associated Press

Environmental science students at Navajo Technical University are often asked by their professors about how they want to give back to their Navajo Nation communities.

The top answer: by improving access to clean water.

Navajo Technical University and New Mexico Tech have teamed up to address such water issues in rural Navajo areas, starting a pilot project to build and operate filtration units for well sites across the vast reservation.

Robert Balch, director of the Petroleum Recovery Research Center at New Mexico Tech and a project lead, says the units can treat even the dirtiest water. 

The Albuquerque Journal reports the U.S. Water Alliance estimates that 30% of Navajo residents don't have running water.

The universities signed a memorandum of understanding on Tuesday in Crownpoint to launch the project. The technology was invented by New Mexico Tech researcher Jianjia Yu.

Navajo Nation Reports 32 New Coronavirus Cases And No Deaths - Associated Press

Navajo Nation health officials report 32 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, but no additional deaths. 

The latest figures released Saturday night bring the total number of cases to 10,269 with the known death toll at 552. 

Tribal officials say 104,746 people have been tested on the vast reservation that covers parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah and 72,250 have recovered from COVID-19. 

The Navajo Nation has implemented a stricter weekend lockdown as it looks into new clusters of coronavirus cases from family gatherings and off-reservation travel. 

Residents now are required to stay home from Friday evening until early Monday morning. More recent weekend lockdowns were a day shorter.


Police Seek Suspect Who Drove Car Into Protesters At UNM - Associated Press

Albuquerque's interim police chief says he's making a priority out of finding the suspect who drove a vehicle into racial injustice protesters near the campus of the University of New Mexico. 

No one was hurt in Friday's incident. 

Acting Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said in a statement Saturday that the city "will not tolerate this kind of behavior." 

Demonstrators say the driver was disparaging them before driving through the crowd. 

They had gathered for a third night of protests after a grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky, decided not to indict any of the officers directly involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Navajo Officials Set On Shutting Down New Mexico Hemp Farms - Associated Press

The Navajo Nation is not letting go of a fight against what it says are illegal hemp farms cultivated through immigrant labor. 

A member of the tribe and head of the operation, Dineh Benally says his business partnership with a Las Vegas dispensary has provided dozens of jobs on the reservation that includes parts of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. 

A New Mexico judge, however, approved last week a temporary restraining order keeping Benally from running the Shiprock area farms. 

Benally called the ruling disappointing and harmful to the Navajo Nation's economy. He says more than 200 members of the tribe are employed there.

In previous court filings, Benally argued he was allowed to grow hemp under the 2018 Farm Bill signed into law by President Donald Trump. His attorney also argued in court his hemp was a less potent form of cannabis. 

In June, Navajo Nation Attorney General Doreen McPaul sued Benally, accusing him and his company of illegally growing industrial hemp and giving out land use permits. Officials also believe the hemp far exceeds the federal limit of no more than 0.3%.