That’s the inquiry being asked in a new report released by VICE News today, wherein the dedication of major tech companies to the privacy of their users was called into question, despite their very public theatrics that have followed Snowden’s leaks which might suggest otherwise.
For the past several months in dozens of states around the nation, the Fourth Amendment Protection Act has sought to place strict limitations on the data that the federal government can collect without a warrant.
First conceived by a ragtag group of activists, the bill has gained significant traction in local legislator’s districts by proposing a sweeping set of reforms which could seriously hamper the still-unrestricted efforts of the supercomputers housed in a nuclear bunker somewhere just outside of Fort Meade in Maryland.
Both Facebook and Google went on the defensive as soon as news of PRISM first broke back in June, claiming they were in full accordance with US policy at the time of the data requests, and that no laws were bent or broken as far as the lawyers for both their companies could tell.
“When governments ask Facebook for data, we review each request carefully to make sure they always follow the correct processes and all applicable laws, and then only provide the information if [it] is required by law,” Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, wrote in a blog post last June. “We will continue fighting aggressively to keep your information safe and secure.”
This would lead anyone with the power of basic deduction to assume that those firms were opposed to massive Internet surveillance programs, especially considering their vocalized displeasure with operations like MUSCULAR and the unrestricted methods it used to pull down search requests, user information, or the contents of emails and private communications without any sense of specific focus or general apprehension to be found.
However, by actively rallying behind two lobbying groups known as the State Privacy and Security Coalition (SPSC) and IT Alliance for the Public Sector (ITAPS) who outwardly oppose the Fourth Amendment Protection Act, both companies have shown that although on the surface they may look like they’re opposed to the NSA programs, behind closed doors they are much more supportive of keeping them alive if the alternative means posting a loss on their next quarterly earnings report.
At this point, many of the allegations against the social media and search moguls brought up by VICE remain conjecture by association at best, but with that said, the link does at least warrant the inquisition of how far each company is willing to fight before the effort of that oppositional stance starts to affect the basics of their bottom lines.