TPM News

Updated Oct. 25 4.45 p.m. E.S.T.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Monday finalized a landmark settlement with Google in which the company has agreed to be audited for its privacy practices for the next 20 years.

The commission has said that this is the first time that it has required any company to formally implement a comprehensive privacy program to protect individuals' personal information.

The FTC commissioners voted to approve the settlement 4-0, after the period for public comment ended. The proposed settlement was announced in March.

The FTC case was prompted by the now-defunct Google Buzz social networking service. Google tried to tack Buzz onto Gmail users' e-mail accounts, enabling them to provide status updates and to share photos and videos, but it created an uproar when it made users' Gmail contacts public by default.

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A U.S. district judge on Monday ordered an injunction on a Florida law requiring welfare applicants to pass a drug test before receiving state benefits.

An ACLU lawsuit filed in September claimed the Florida law violates the Fourth Amendment by requiring welfare applicants to submit to a "suspicionless" drug test. The suit was filed on behalf of Luis Lebron, a 35-year-old Orlando resident and Navy veteran who applied for welfare benefits but refused to take the drug test.

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"We Can't Wait" is the White House's new economic rallying cry. With Senate Republicans committed to filibustering President Obama's jobs bills, and House Republicans refusing to hold votes on them, the administration is taking some steps that don't require Congress to act.

The most significant of these, announced Monday, will allow people with underwater mortgages to refinance at favorable rates if their mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. It will expand the existing Home Affordable Refinancing Program to all underwater homeowners, leaving people with more money in their accounts every month, and thus, as David Dayen has pointed out, functioning as a de facto stimulus.

Will it move the needle on unemployment though? It depends on whom you ask, but the broad view seems to be it won't on its own fix the ailing economy. But it is expected to jack up the number of mortgage refinancings.

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by Jennifer LaFleur ProPublica

A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents thatrecords don't exist - even when they do.

Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what's known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.

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The feud between GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain and GOP pundit/strategist Karl Rove continues to escalate.

Speaking on the phone Monday afternoon, Cain hit back at Rove's earlier accusations that he had peaked as a candidate and accused the former Bush adviser of deliberately attempting to damage his campaign.

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The Government Accountability Office has updated its fiscal outlook for the U.S. government and come to some familiar conclusions. The country has a long term imbalance that will have to be addressed, but not until today's economic woes have passed. If Congress simply does nothing -- and allows the Bush tax cuts, and other temporary laws to expire -- the country's fiscal health will improve significantly over the long term.

But the report implies something that's been lost in the recent partisan debate over the country's future: repealing ObamaCare would consign us to swift, ugly fiscal and health care crises.

The health care reform law will extend subsidized private health insurance to millions of Americans, paid for with new taxes and Medicare savings. But it also included numerous demonstration projects and reforms intended to rein in the growth of health care costs, and thus Medicare spending. Some of them have great promise -- if they can survive.

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Herman Cain said he would take action to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion -- though in fact, the president does not have any role in amending the Constitution at all.

In an interview posted over the weekend on the Christian Broadcasting Network:

Brody: Are you for some sort of pro-life amendment to the Constitution that in essence would trump Roe v. Wade?

Cain: Yes. Yes I feel that strongly about it. If we can get the necessary support and it comes to my desk I'll sign it. That's all I can do. I will sign it.

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