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Everything Wrong With Nothing To Hide

July 7, 2016

 Editorial 

 

Those who argue that surveillance does not matter to them since they have nothing to hide are making a narrow-minded argument

It has been repeated several times over the few years that the privacy-surveillance debate has really been a hot topic. The Snowden revelations in 2013 caused an array of different opinions to fly around regarding the issues it concerned. All of them have their merits as well as their flaws. Yet one argument which has been frequently used to disregard the importance of privacy is the ‘nothing to hide’ argument. This fallacious statement claims that if one is not guilty of doing anything suspicious, or which may be illegal, then there is no reason for them to fear being watched by the government. This argument, however, presents a very narrow-minded view about privacy and why it is important.

 

This argument assumes that privacy is only desirable among those who do bad things. This is simply not true. Although criminals or other illegal actors may want the help of secrecy to conceal their malicious acts to avoid being detected by law enforcement or the government, it is still wrong to assume that everyone who is on the internet has these intentions. 

 

Having privacy allows people to act as they would like, without the fear of being spied on, but not necessarily acts which are illegal. In the context of cyber, privacy is needed to give people the ability to control their data and share it with who they please. It is also needed to prevent precious data from being stolen from hackers and potential cybercriminals with malicious intentions in mind.

 

Overall, blurring legitimate inclinations for privacy with an ill-minded desire for secrecy is the wrong way to approach the privacy-surveillance debate. It ignores all the positives to the preservation of privacy, and thus the ‘nothing to hide’ argument has nothing valuable to offer to a complex debate.

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