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Monthly Archives: June 2013

Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide

There’s a lot of discussion going on in this country right now about how much our government is watching and listening to us.  This is a good debate to have.  It’s long overdue.  We should have had it before the PATRIOT ACT of 2001 was voted on, but everyone in Congress, except a single courageous person, Russ Feingold, voted for that legislation.  In my opinion Russ Feingold is the best kind of American and the people of Wisconsin were lucky to have him.  And, he predicted what is happening today.

So, I’m glad we’re having it now.  One thing I hear in these debates are people asking: if you don’t have anything to hide, why is what our government is doing a bad thing?  It would only catch criminals or terrorists, right?  The answer is not as simple as yes.

Before I link to a bunch of good discussion, I want to point something out: there are a lot of laws in this country.  A staggering number of them.  There are things which are crimes that would completely flabbergast you or me.   In fact, it has been posited that every American commits three felonies a day.  I’m not going to go into detail about this, but for the sake of the following, let’s assume that people unsuspectingly break laws fairly frequently.  Say that you are now brought in for questioning by the police, and you feel you haven’t done anything wrong.  Who among us wouldn’t ask for a lawyer and would answer all their questions?  I hope the answer is none of you.  History is rife with examples where the police homed in on an innocent person, built and prosecuted, tried and convicted that person.  How?  Often they talked to the police.

Talking with the police and the government knowing almost everything you do is not much different.  In fact, I would argue the latter is much, much worse.

Why Privacy Matters Even if You Have ‘Nothing to Hide’ by Daniel K. Solove.  Lots of good content here.

The effect of curfews.

It’s really about nothing to fear.

[UPDATE 6/9/2013] Questions you can ask someone that has nothing to hide.

[UPDATE 6/11/13] This is interesting enough to reproduce here:

We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11.  They contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers.  After he consulted with Legal, he refused.  As a result, NSA canceled a bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top bidder for.  And then the DoJ targeted him and prosecuted him and put him in prison for insider trading — on the theory that he knew of anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for the government, while the public didn’t because it was classified and he couldn’t legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock knowing those things.

This CEO’s name is Joseph P. Nacchio and TODAY he’s still serving a trumped-up 6-year federal prison sentence today for quietly refusing an NSA demand to massively wiretap his customers.

That’s a good start.  Post others in the comments.

Don’t forget to donate to the EFF.  This is the only way I know of to fight back.