Monday, June 10, 2013

What Do You Have To Hide?

In an article talking about what you can do to keep the government from eavesdropping on your internet and telephone usage, the web site Extreme Tech addresses an often-used excuse for invasion of privacy: "If you don't have anything to hide, why worry?"

"The nothing-to-hide argument is, at best, a pathetically naive defense that owes most of its efficacy to our fear of extremism. Basically, the government is saying that only criminals want to hide data about themselves. Just by paraphrasing the nothing-to-hide argument, you begin to see the stupidity of this argument. We all have things we want to hide, from our loved ones, from our friends, from our communities, and from our government.  If you went up to Barack Obama, or some other senior figure, and asked to see his personal email or credit card bill, what do you think their response would be? Without turning this into a conversation about privacy, which is a very complex topic indeed, suffice it to say that the nothing-to-hide argument is underpinned by a very, very narrow understanding of privacy. Think about this: What happens if a hacker breaks into the government’s database?"

Robert A Cook graphic

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