"There is, simply, no way, to ignore privacy. Because a citizenry’s freedoms are interdependent, to surrender your own privacy is really to surrender everyone’s. You might choose to give it up out of convenience, or under the popular pretext that privacy is only required by those who have something to hide. But saying that you don’t need or want privacy because you have nothing to hide is to assume that no one should have, or could have to hide anything – including their immigration status, unemployment history, financial history, and health records. You’re assuming that no one, including yourself, might object to revealing to anyone information about their religious beliefs, political affiliations and sexual activities, as casually as some choose to reveal their movie and music tastes and reading preferences.
Ultimately, saying that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different from saying you don’t care about freedom of speech because you have nothing to say. Or that you don’t care about freedom of the press because you don’t like to read. Or that you don’t care about freedom of religion because you don’t believe in God. Or that you don’t care about the freedom to peaceably assemble because you’re a lazy, antisocial agoraphobe. Just because this or that freedom might not have meaning to you today doesn’t mean that that it doesn’t or won’t have meaning tomorrow, to you, or to your neighbor – or to the crowds of principled dissidents I was following on my phone who were protesting halfway across the planet, hoping to gain just a fraction of the freedom that my country was busily dismantling."
― Edward Snowden, Permanent Record, p. 208
Privacy-conscious people may not use Gmail because they don't like what Google is doing, but if everyone you communicate with has an @gmail.com address, you're being 'compromised' every time you send a message to them.
“ Therefore, in a more compelling form than is often expressed in popular discourse, the nothing to hide argument proceeds as follows: The NSA surveillance, data mining, or other government information- gathering programs will result in the disclosure of particular pieces of information to a few government officials, or perhaps only to government computers. This very limited disclosure of the particular information involved is not likely to be threatening to the privacy of law-abiding citizens. Only those who are engaged in illegal activities have a reason to hide this information. Although there may be some cases in which the information might be sensitive or embarrassing to law-abiding citizens, the limited disclosure lessens the threat to privacy. Moreover, the security interest in detecting, investigating, and preventing terrorist attacks is very high and outweighs whatever minimal or moderate privacy interests law-abiding citizens may have in these particular pieces of information.
Cast in this manner, the nothing to hide argument is a formidable one.”
Further, since the only reason people would accept this type of surveillance is fear, agencies and governments are directly incentivized by it to prolong and augment the threat, as that directly benefits them and allows them to keep the position of power, to keep their jobs and budgets. Which is less than ideal setup, as it is out of balance by design. As soon as other institutions of the system weaken this will have a tendency to spiral into a fight for grabbing as much power as possible, and then potentially some sort of dictatorship, as has happened in so many societies that had strong security agencies and weak political system.
Only once this is addressed should we move down the priority list to "blanket communication and behavioural surveillance of the citizenry."
The potential for harm to a country and it's citizens caused by political decisions is exponentially greater than any act by an individual or group with no political power. (and whilst this point is arguable and weighted with emotion, this includes 9/11).
No thank you, I'd give up my privacy if it could help prevent heart attacks, cancer or maybe even automobile crashes but terrorism compared to the above pale in comparison when you consider the number of deaths. Literally giving up one of the fundamentals the country was founded on for something so minor is clearly a reach of power for the government to control the population under the guise of keeping them secure.
No. It's still the same old weak argument. "This surveillance will never be used for the wrong reasons and any level of incidental damage to innocents is acceptable, as long as we achieve our goal of preventing people from doing a narrow definition of the wrong thing."
The flaws are this.
(1) not only is there no definition of "the wrong reasons" ("only those who are engaged in illegal activities"), the definition can change, and experience has show that such surveillance data inevitably gets used for purposes outside of the original limited intent. Such primises are not worth the water in which they are writ.
(2) The only acceptable level of incidental damage to innocent parties is zero.
(3) Surveillance is often a form of terrorism. It's a well-documented historic fact (thanks, Stazi, for you predilection for recordkeeping). Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Tomorrow’s moral majority coupled with a total information awareness permanent record and a representative (of the majority) government? You don’t even need much imagination.
@dang you might want to edit the URL to this
Since he posted it in this thread, he should obviously thinks it makes a point relevant to privacy.
But the quote is not about privacy. "Give me six lines" just means that anything said/written by someone could be misconstrued against them, not just their private communications.
(Of course it would also apply to things communicated in private, and perhaps even more so since one would say even more damning things there. But it's not meant to be a warning about them, but about how anyone can something something that can be used against them, privately or not).
Okay, the internet was created for military communications. So, with your logic, you should have a problem with it being used to power eCommerce, pornography, YouTube, Facebook and hacker news.
This ain't literature class.
Not with "my logic", but with the logic of some strawman, who claimed something really unrelated to my point.
I didn't say that "nothing can't be used outside of its original stated purpose".
I said that a specific quote about how anybody can find some damning thing in what others have wrote/said to attack them with, is not the same as a quote about privacy.
That is, it's intented message not:
"It's good to keep your writings/letters/etc private because else someone might find stuff in them to use against you"
"I -as a skilled manipulator- can take any random stuff wrote/said by even the most innocent man and it against them to make them appear guilty".
The act of FINDING anything one has said/written is privacy related.
>I -as a skilled manipulator- can take any random stuff wrote/said by even the most innocent man and it against them to make them appear guilty".
Good point. Let's put the quote in context. Gestapo, Nazi Germany's secret police is where this quote supposedly originated. They had a country-wide spy network to monitor what people said.
Data manipulation can't happen without data. Without the collection and storing of conversations, breaking into people's homes, intercepting mails/telephone/telegraph correspondence, no manipulation of the "words" could have happened.
The point is - A skilled manipulator won't find anything to hang me unless he's invading my privacy in the first place. (Assuming I don't give public speeches or write publicly)
The quote is attributed to cardinal Richelieu, and whether it's his or not, exists for at least 2 centuries, so before the Gestapo and modern surveillance.
>Data manipulation can't happen without data.
Which is neither here, nor there. I agree that privacy is important, and that surveillance offers all kinds of opportunities for that.
My point is that the quote wasn't intended originally as a comment on that, and it is out of place related to that, because it intends to emphasize the inverse: you don't need "data", just any 6 lines will do.
>The point is - A skilled manipulator won't find anything to hang me unless he's invading my privacy in the first place.
That's a point one can make. It might even be a point I agree with.
It's not however the point the quote was making. And it's only that which I'm pointing here, not the merits or not of privacy/surveillance.
The quote was making the inverse point: "Who cares for data and deep secrets, and notebooks, and spying, and so on. I just need any old 6 lines from someone and can have them hanged".
Might be too arrogant for Richelieu (or whoever said it) to think so. Might not even be realistic. But even metaphorically, it's purpose was to convey:
"Anything someone says can be used and misconstrued against them".
“Can and will”
Security and privacy are not diametrically opposed concepts. They are directly dependent on one another. You can't have one without the other.
This is a surprisingly common sentiment in HN when it relates to financial privacy.
Laws that criminalize financial privacy, aka KYC/AML laws, are justified with precisely this "nothing to hide" argument geared to money laundering and other financial crimes, and said laws are quite popular with the tech intelligentsia.
Whether explicit or not, conceptions of privacy underpin nearly every argument made about privacy, even the common quip “I’ve got nothing to hide.” As I have sought to demonstrate in this essay, understanding privacy as a pluralistic conception reveals that we are often talking past each other when discussing privacy issues. By focusing more specifically on the related problems under the rubric of “privacy,” we can better address each problem rather than ignore or conflate them. The “nothing to hide” argument speaks to some problems, but not to others. It represents a singular and narrow way of conceiving of privacy, and it wins by excluding consideration of the other problems often raised in government surveillance and data mining programs.
When engaged with directly, the “nothing to hide” argument can ensnare, for it forces the debate to focus on its narrow understanding of privacy. But when confronted with the plurality of privacy problems implicated by government
data collection and use beyond surveillance and disclosure, the “nothing to hide” argument, in the end, has nothing to say.
Let’s say your screen is captured as well. And sometimes that screen will contain personal and private information of friends and family who might care.
It is not your call to decide for them whether their information should be put at risk or not by an organization that has proved itself capable of leaking like a sieve.
You could argue that your devices contain no names of friends or pictures or contact info or messages of any sort with anyone. OK, but that would be pretty unusual.
Saying you don’t care is like driving drunk on an empty road with passengers in the car. You may not care about whether you die, but you have passengers. Your caring about yourself or not isn’t the issue.
However, even although I care about this and actively oppose these practices, I don't cover my face when I live my home, for example, and I don't think (some people may disagree) that I should. Of course, once this affect more people, it is not my choice to not care, and I will do everything possible to keep other people privacy.
After all I assume they're doing all this for our protection, not to generate crimes?
Pretty unconvincing IMO. The real issue is selective enforcement, e.g. cops who bomb a house to smithereens in pursuit of a suspect but then have sovereign immunity so don't have any consequences. And similarly city officials tend to throw the book of regulations at people they don't like.