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Privacy for the Collective - 2017/02/16
When privacy activists are confronted by the 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' argument, we are quite baffled. Mostly because everyone has something to hide (as I explained in a previous post), however this does not stop these people from bringing it up, and it's impossible to give them an example of something they have to hide because if you knew then they wouldn't really be hiding it. This is the reason why this argument is so annoying to us, since we cannot prove that they have something to hide (at least not in an easy way, you could always offer to watch them intimately for an extended period of time everywhere and everything they do, but this is not pragmatic since you yourself have things to do). However, this is why there are other arguments that can be posed to counter it, however they are not about the individual you are talking to.

The fact is that privacy isn't only about protecting our own privacy, but that of everyone else as well. The NSA may not care about you specifically, you may think that your life is 'boring' and that no one would care about you, but this should not stop you from helping those who do have something they wish to hide from the NSA or any other major entity (such as Google, Facebook, or Yahoo!). Perhaps you do not take part in protests, but what about the person that does? Perhaps you are not part of an anti-system organization, but what about the person that is? There are people of all sorts of political affiliations and backgrounds who wish to protect their identities from governments and corporations who wish to silence them, kill them, or even torture them. It's not only people trying to avoid our governments in Europe or North America, but what about truly totalitarian governments such as that of Saudi Arabia, or repressive governments such as those of China and Venezuela? Those people also wish to conceal their identities.

You may ask "What does this have to do with me concealing my identity? I'm not one of those people.". The issue is not necessarily that you are one of those people, you can have a life as boring as you like where you stand in line like everyone else and never do anything against the whim of your government or corporate overlords, but by not protecting your privacy you are helping to single out those that actually do 'have something to hide'. If only people that 'have something to hide' hid their information then it would be very obvious who to crack down on: whomever is sending/receiving encrypted e-mails, whomever is encrypting their hard drives, whomever is using TOR or I2P to navigate the internet, whomever either does not have a phone or keeps it off (and makes sure it doesn't have a camera on it), etc. Meanwhile, if more people keep their information private, no matter how 'boring' it may be, the surveillance entities will see the same black bar over your information as they do over someone who's sending information about what is happening in a repressive country to a journalist.

In all reality I do not have anything to hide, I do not take part in illegal activities, and if someone were to decrypt my hard drive they would few things of value (perhaps my Monero wallet, but good luck getting my password for that). Yet, I find it important to hide my information and keep it safe from those who do not need to have it. I should be able to choose who has access to my information, that should not be decided for me, and it should not be decided for you either. In the end it's a question of ethics, just be aware that by not protecting your information you are also hurting those that need to protect it, not just people like me who like surveillance entities not having access to our information, but people who if they were found out they could face terrible consequences.

There is another article I have read that I believe makes another good point, however this article focuses on the future rather than those that require privacy in the present. You can find it here.


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