Random Bits

“Nothing to hide” is not a good argument

When talking about privacy and online surveillance (a topic that has been in the spotlight over the last year) with friends, colleagues and people that haven’t given much thought about these issues, the most common answer i hear is (as you’ve already guessed) “I’ve nothing to hide”, which is fallacious argument. Arguing with someone that has this mindset is really difficult because most of the time (in my experience) it means one of 4 things:

  1. I don’t care.
  2. I don’t know the quantity and/or quality of  information that can be gathered.
  3. I don’t believe small pieces of unrelated information leaked in different places will be added up to build a more complete profile.
  4. I’m not really aware of what the implications of surveillance are.

Trying to convince this person that privacy in the age of the Internet is a topic worth discussing is really hard (it got a little easier after last year’s events).

Today I’ve read an essay that really sums up some of the arguments i would use to show to someone that privacy matters. It is a long read but it worths the time spent:

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide

By Gonçalo Valério

Software developer and owner of this blog. More in the "about" page.

4 replies on ““Nothing to hide” is not a good argument”

You will find this article interesting too:

“I’ll be less reflexively dismissive next time someone tells me that they have nothing to hide. This type of unicorn does exist! But I will also understand more fully that if someone truly has “nothing to hide,” it means that they also have insufficient regard for the comfort, preferences, and desires of people who feel differently.”

Cheers from The Netherlands 😉

Thanks for the link. It seems like an interesting experiment but what this person is trying to do is just like a reality show (for example Big Brothers), where participants give up their privacy and freedom for a limited period of time in exchange for some payment.

Throughout the article you can find several red flags raised by the reporter, that his actions may cause collateral damage to other people (in some cases even without doing nothing wrong).

In the end as you quoted, and i agree, the last paragraph makes the most important point of the whole article. Cheers

Comments are closed.