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Google Report Says Government Surveillance Is On The Rise

Google announced Tuesday the release of its latest transparency report, which reveals that the search giant is getting more government request than ever before. Google’s transparency report details takedown request from government agencies or organizations worldwide. Typical inquiries include the request to remove content that is in violation of copyright or local laws.The top reason for court orders issued to Google are defamation, and privacy and security.  The report says that government agencies from around the world, from 34,614 accounts, made a total of 20,938 inquiries in the first half of 2012. When Google launched its transparency report in 2010 the number of requests between July to Dec. 2009 was 12,539. Google also reported the number requests by governments for user data information, and the percentage of compliance. In the United States, the government requested data from Google 7,969 times, about 16,281 user accounts. The search giant complied 90 percent of the time.

Illinois City Official To Plead Guilty To Stealing $53 Mil

A former comptroller accused of stealing $53 million from her small northern Illinois city to fund a lavish lifestyle, including one of the nation’s foremost horse-breeding operations, is expected to plead guilty on Wednesday, federal prosecutors said. CBS News reports Rita Crundwell will plead guilty to a federal charge that accuses her of stealing the public money while overseeing the public finances of Dixon, U.S. attorney’s spokesman Randall Samborn said. Prosecutors allege that she stole the money over several years and siphoned it into a secret bank account. Crundwell had previously pleaded not guilty to the wire fraud count, which carried a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. Crundwell, 58, is accused of using her modestly paid town hall job to steal tax dollars, support an extravagant lifestyle and win national fame as a breeder. Prosecutors allege that since 1990, Crundwell stole more than $53 million from Dixon, where she oversaw public finances as the city comptroller since the 1980s. The small city is about 100 miles west of Chicago.

Supreme Court Deals Setback To Consumers Over Card Disclosure

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that consumers who receive receipts from the federal government that contain confidential credit card information may not be able to sue for damages, reports the Chicago Tribune. The court unanimously said the government may not lose its traditional immunity from lawsuits in cases seeking damages under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which is designed to ensure fair and accurate credit reporting and protect customer privacy. James Bormes, a Chicago lawyer, had paid a $350 federal court filing fee through the government’s pay.gov system with his American Express credit card. He said his receipts for that transaction contained his card’s expiration date, violating FCRA provisions designed to protect against identity theft. Bormes then sued the government, seeking class-action status on behalf of people with receipts that displayed card expiration dates or too many digits from credit and debit card numbers.

Toyota Agrees To $25.5 Million Investor Lawsuit Settlement

Toyota Motor Corp agreed on Tuesday to pay $25.5 million to settle a U.S. shareholder class action lawsuit accusing the company of not disclosing safety and quality issues related to recalls and reports of unintended vehicle acceleration in 2010, Reuters reports. The proposed cash settlement was detailed in documents filed by the plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The settlement must be approved by U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer in Los Angeles. If approved, the settlement would resolve a major lawsuit that had dogged Toyota since reports of its vehicle recalls stole headlines two years ago. Toyota investors began suing Toyota for securities fraud in February 2010 amid reports of accidents related to unintended acceleration by Toyota vehicles.Toyota subsequently recalled up to 10 million Toyota or Lexus vehicles at a cost of $5 billion.

States Petition To Secede From Union 

As the dust settles in the wake of President Obama’s decisive reelection last Tuesday, the White House petition website has been flooded by a series of secession requests, with malcontents from New Jersey to North Dakota submitting petitions to allow their states to withdraw from the union. Most of the petitions submitted thus far have come from solidly conservative states, including most of the Deep South and reliably separatist Texas. But a handful come from the heart of blue America – relatively progressive enclaves like Oregon and New York. All told, petitions have been filed on behalf of 20 states. The petitions have been submitted through the White House’s “We the People” website, which aims to give “all Americans a way to engage their government on the issues that matter to them.” The White House promises that “If a petition meets the signature threshold, it will be reviewed by the Administration and we will issue a response.”

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