The Washington Post revealed this week that Facebook, Google, Apple and other major tech companies are changing their privacy policies so that they will notify individual users if and when the government requests their data. The companies have said that they will only stop if they’re issued a gag order by a legal entity.
These major tech companies have repeatedly pressured the government to allow them to disclose their relationship with the government, though they have thus far been met by either silence or rejections. Now, it would seem, the companies are taking matters into their own hands. The government says that notifying users that they are being observed could severely hinder law enforcement’s efforts.
“These risks of endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses are not merely hypothetical, but unfortunately routine,” said Peter Car, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice. However, as the Post points out, the government routinely notified people that they were under investigation before the digital age without much impact.
This shift in policy is certainly good news for people concerned about Facebook’s “Big Brother” potential. While there might not be anything that can be done about the government observing you on social media, now you might at least find out if they’re doing it.