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Are Your Privacy Rights in Danger?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Privacy Policy

The Obama administration is reportedly considering allowing government agencies to track people who log on to their Internet sites. The Washington Post reports the proposal by the office of management and budget would scale back a long-standing ban on the use of so-called cookies and other technologies to collect user data. Some privacy groups are already expressing alarm.

The American Civil Liberties Union spokesman Michael Macleod-Ball says the plan would, "allow the mass collection of personal information of every user of a federal government Web site."

The Post's report says the government could be seeking the changes at the request of private companies such as Google. Cindy Cohn, the legal director at the online rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation, says: "It appears that these companies are forcing the government to lower the privacy protections that the government had promised the American people."

But a budget office spokesman says the administration is committed to protecting user privacy. We will follow this story.

Runaway Spending?

The Transportation Department's inspector general says the administration used economic stimulus funds to pay for 50 airport projects that allegedly failed to meet grant criteria. Calvin Skovel says that includes $14 million given to a rural Alaska town to replace its airfield, although the town has a seaplane and is located 14 miles from the state's fourth busiest airport. $15 million was awarded to a second Alaska town with just 167 residents to replace its airport's gravel runway.

And millions were given to airstrips in Ohio, Washington, Missouri and Delaware, although those airports provide limited service and no commercial flights.

Skovel also cited four grants to recipients with a history of mismanaging government money. But the Transportation Department's deputy secretary says Skovel's description is an overstatement, and that the projects were necessary.

Take Two

And the wife of Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers is under investigation again. Media reports say Monica Conyers, who resigned from Detroit's City Council last month after pleading guilty to a federal corruption charge, is facing questions about the disappearance of $21,000 worth of city equipment. The items vanished from her office and include laptops, digital cameras, and printers.

The city council president says he referred the case to the Detroit police after Conyers and her lawyer failed to cooperate. But Conyers' lawyer, Steve Fishman, says his client has done nothing wrong: "If this is a criminal case, then I'm a Chinese aviator." Conyers is awaiting sentencing on her federal corruption charge, and faces up to five years in prison.

— FOX News Channel's Lanna Britt contributed to this report.

Bret Baier currently serves as anchor of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier" (weeknights 6-7PM/ET), the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot. Based in Washington, D.C., he joined the network in 1998 as the first reporter in the Atlanta bureau. Click here for more information on Bret Baier