I've got nothing to hide / the issue of privacy in relation to terrorism

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  • 1 april 2019
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“I’ve got nothing to hide” – the issue of privacy in relation to terrorism[1]

  • Introduction

A lot of people believe that: “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear”. The reasoning goes that if you’ve done nothing wrong, it doesn’t matter if governments want to collect all your data, emails, phone calls, webcam images and internet searches, because they won’t find anything of interest.

It’s an attractive argument in wanting to create a safe environment and in the fight against terrorism.

After all, non-terrorists shouldn't be affected, right?

But if you look more closely, you'll see this idea is full of holes.

  • My most important considerations to motivate my point of view.
  • The statement suggests that privacy is something only criminals desire. But that is of course not true. In fact, we choose to do many things in private even though they are not wrong or illegal.

Privacy is a fundamental part of a dignified life

  • The "nothing to hide" argument also has things backwards when it suggests that we are all worthy of suspicion until proven otherwise. Our system of justice treats us all as innocent until proven guilty.

There must be a good reason for suspicion, not the other way around. So "nothing to hide" should not be a license for sweeping government surveillance.

  • Even if you think you have nothing to hide, you may indeed have something to fear.

You might fear for our society. Living under the constant gaze of government surveillance can produce long-lasting social harm: if citizens are just a little more fearful, a little less likely to freely associate, a little less likely to dissent  – the aggregate chilling effect can close what was once an open society.

  • Conclusion

When the government operates in secret, it is hard to know anything with confidence.

There is, however, one thing you can say with 100% confidence: we need to know more.

Dit wil je ook lezen:

We need to know more about what the government is doing with data that is collected because, even if we have nothing to hide, that does not mean we want to live in a society where nothing is private.

  1. The American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) is a nonprofit organization[6][7]whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."[8] 

[1] https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/you-may-have-nothing-hide-you-still-have-something-fear


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