A new update rolling out for Gmail offers a "self destruct" feature that allows users to send messages that expire after a set amount of time.
While this may sound great for personal use, activists fear that government organizations will use the feature to delete public records to hide them from reporters and others interested in government transparency. Normally, government emails are available to journalists, researchers, and citizens using Freedom of Information Act requests (and its state-level analogues.)
"As more local and state governments and their various agencies seek to use Gmail, there is the potential that state public records laws will be circumvented by emails that 'disappear' after a period of time," the National Freedom of Information Coalition wrote in a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai. "The public's fundamental right to transparency and openness by their governments will be compromised."