Privacy rights have faced a barrage of attacks in the past couple of decades. Governments have been decimating individual privacy regulations in Australia, Germany, the UK and the US. Worse yet, a certain amount of apathy has arisen from most people to not even care about this disturbing trend.
This apathy usually follows the disingenuous motto of:
“I have nothing to hide”
And what a logically insane proposition that is. Privacy rights affect all of us, regardless of if you personally have something to hide.
But even then: nothing, really? Not your medical records? Not past events you are ashamed of? Nothing at all? I find that hard to believe.
As Edward Snowden once said:
Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.
What About The Laws?
Privacy is something that is taken for granted.
This right is not as strictly defined in the US as say, the first or second amendment.
It’s constructed by a patchwork of (sometimes) interconnected laws governing use of data, medical records, and small constructions of state/municipal deviations that only a trained lawyer would be able to distinguish.
And like any big complicated mess of legality, it has loopholes. A lot of them.
Why Are Privacy Rights Important?
Personal data is imperative to how many live their lives. If everything you did was public, would you act like yourself?
It’s not just a privacy issues, but a free speech issue. Privacy is sometimes key to speaking on sensitive topics.
And it doesn’t have to be malicious topics. Even innocent things like a disagreement between a friend or exploring ideas counter to what your family would approve of.
Privacy helps the exploration of mankind and further development through the protection of data that could otherwise be used to dissuade someone from pursuing those activities.
Privacy is also a discrimination issue. Imagine if everyone knew your voting or internet browsing habits. How would family or friends react? And worse: Governments, business, and corporations could discriminate based on a person’s beliefs or viewpoints by simply breaching ethical privacy standards to discover them. It’s not a far off belief, corporations have been known to Google or Facebook stalk individuals to discover their “other side” prior to accepting them to work.
Privacy also encourages trust.
When you go to the doctor and speak of an illness, you’re doing so with a closed belief that they will not then be able to go outside and tell their friends about your problems. If privacy rights continue to falter, would we truly be able to trust our doctors, lawyers, friends or colleagues with our personal information?
Likewise, every aspect of action requires a certain level of trust. Privacy continually being under assault degrades that trust and makes us a much more outwardly hostile society.
It also gives the young the ability to grow. Imagine if everything you talked about online when you were young was public. The crazy comments, beliefs, and growing pains made full view like a theater. I don’t even like thinking about it. All those crazy YouTube comments and discussion threads on random forums would be the downfall of me.
But they helped me grow. I saw how poorly connected my beliefs were and bettered myself through the experience. Had those been public, I would never be able to escape them. They’d always be back to haunt me.
Privacy gives us all a second chance.
And privacy rights also help us put a cap on governmental power. We don’t have to seek the lites or the common man’s approval to believe a certain thing or research a certain topic. We are free to move or wander as we choose throughout this life.
Giving the government the power of monitoring all of us will never go over kindly. Look at the places that have been tried throughout history and consider if you’d honestly want to live in one of those places.
What Can You Do?
- Become more privacy-centric. Don’t use products by corporations that use your data like it’s their play toy. Google, being a prime example.
- Read the EFF Surveillance Self-Defense Guide here.
- Support privacy rights groups in your country.
- Finally, spread the message of how privacy is being eroded and why it matters.