“If you aren’t doing anything wrong…”

by Devanshu Mehta

Everyone has heard of the classic defense of every violation of our privacy, of every move towards a police state:

“If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

I hate that line, but there isn’t a comeback to it that is quite as cutting and apt. So here are many ideas from Bruce Schneier and, as an article, it is the perfect sledgehammer for that depressing slogan of the security over privacy brigade. From the article:

Some clever answers: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.” […] My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? (“Who watches the watchers?”) and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

He goes on:

How many of us have paused during conversation in the past four-and-a-half years, suddenly aware that we might be eavesdropped on? […] We stop suddenly, momentarily afraid that our words might be taken out of context, then we laugh at our paranoia and go on. But our demeanor has changed, and our words are subtly altered.

This is the loss of freedom we face when our privacy is taken from us. This is life in former East Germany, or life in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. And it’s our future as we allow an ever-intrusive eye into our personal, private lives.

Read the entire article– it is fantastic. One of Schneier’s best.