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Thread: Nothing to Hide?

  1. #1
    The ******* Shadow dalek's Avatar
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    Sep 2005

    Nothing to Hide?

    Very interesting read on the argument of "nothing to hide" proponents.

    Schneier on Security

    A blog covering security and security technology.

    July 13, 2007
    Privacy and the "Nothing to Hide" Argument

    Good essay:

    In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the "nothing to hide" argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: "I've got nothing to hide." According to the "nothing to hide" argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The "nothing to hide" argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the "nothing to hide" argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings. PDF from Social Science Research Network

    The "nothing to hide" argument and its variants are quite prevalent in popular discourse about privacy. Data security expert Bruce Schneier calls it the "most common retort against privacy advocates" Legal scholar Geoffrey Stone refers to it as "all-too-common refrain".
    The "nothing to hide" argument is one of the primary arguments made when balancing privacy against security. In its most compelling form, it is an argument that the privacy interest is generally minimal to trivial, thus making the balance against security concerns a foreordained victory for security.
    Sometimes the "nothing to hide" argument is posed as a question: "If you have nothing to hide, then what do you have to fear?" Others ask: "If you arn't doing anything wrong, then what do you have to hide?"
    People need to understand the differences and nuances in the questions that are asked of them, because the Law agencies certainly know how to ask them.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    Doing something wrong is irrelevant.

    The only question is do you trust your legal system?

    I don't trust mine.

  3. #3
    Disgruntled Postal Worker fourdc's Avatar
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    Jul 2002
    Vermont, USA
    The trouble I see with the nothing to hide attitude is that a government agency could do a lot of data collection and then the political winds blow the other way at some point and those people that were doing perfectly legal things before the change now find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

    If they give up those activities with the change in law they will still always be suspected as being a criminal because of their past.

    I believe it happened in Germany in the late 1930s.

    Those that give up freedom for security will have neither...Ben Franklin

    "Somehow saying I told you so just doesn't cover it" Will Smith in I, Robot

  4. #4
    Senior Member Aardpsymon's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    St Annes (aaaa!)
    Yeah, the whole "nothing to hide" thing is a bit dubious. I mean, why do hotels hide the titles of films on the bill? because people don't want others to know they ordered porn. I can have things to hide without doing anything "wrong". I certainly wouldn't want someone to root through everything in my bedroom, my taste in books/cds, my photo albums...I'd like to choose who sees them, not you and you certainly don't get to root through my room to see them.

    On the other hand, someone somewhere having my fingerprints on file doesn't worry me.
    If the world doesn't stop annoying me I will name my kids ";DROP DATABASE;" and get revenge.

  5. #5
    AO Curmudgeon rcgreen's Avatar
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    Nov 2001
    I read the whole article (damn pdf). I was pleased by the
    fact that the author maintains the idea that privacy is
    not merely to protect the individual, but also serves
    a social purpose. In our minds, we envision a scale,
    balancing the interests of the individual against the
    claims of the society collectively. There's more to it than that.
    The loss of privacy would damage not just the individuals
    whose privacy was sacrificed, but everyone, because it would
    create a different kind of society, in which we all must live.
    I came in to the world with nothing. I still have most of it.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Jul 2001
    The article was well written. The problem with the domestic spying is it chips away citizens rights. If your not careful one morning you wake up and you live in totalitarian state with no rights (exaggeration but it could happen). I do not trust the government to do what is best for me. The whole animal farm issue....All pigs are equal some are just more eual then others.

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  7. #7
    T3h Ch3F
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    Sep 2001


    Quote Originally Posted by nihil
    Doing something wrong is irrelevant.

    The only question is do you trust your legal system?

    I don't trust mine.
    Nope, judging alone by the number of people who have been set free due to DNA evidence and their false imprisonment NO WAY.
    Get some good religion from Bad Religion.

  8. #8
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
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    The problem seems to be with "contentious" legal systems which England and the US have?

    Too many people just "looking for a result" rather than the truth or justice?

    The Scottish and French systems are far superior in this respect.

    My concern is that if the standards for evidence gathering and surveillance are lowered, the temptation to be "convenient with the truth" and even fabricate things will increase.

  9. #9
    AO übergeek phishphreek's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    I also don't agree with the "nothing to hide" argument. There are certain things that I do in real life or online that might be embarassing. I'd like to protect what few rights I have left. At the rate of which they're being stripped from us... I suggest you do too!

    This is kind of offtopic... but not really.

    Many people (including me) are intimidated by law enforcement. They have to be suspicious of everyone. I've had enough encounters (both good and bad) with police now that I am comfortable dealing with them. Not encounters because I was breaking the law (other than a traffic violation or underage consumption in college).

    When I was younger, I didn't really know my rights and basically gave up my rights as soon as I was approached by police. I was searched and felt like a criminal. It's embarassing to have the cops searching your car. All the contents of your trunk spilled out onto the side of the highway... just becase you're young and wearing a tiedyed shirt and en route to a phish show. Mind you, they never found anything illegal... but I'll agree that there are some things that I wish my friends didn't see coming out of the car.

    If I had known then, what I know now about my rights... I could have saved myself some embarassment. If you live in the US and are not sure what your rights are when encountering law enforcement, then view this video. Actually, I suggest you view it at every couple of months just to be sure it's fresh in your mind.
    BUSTED: The Citizen's Guide to Surviving Police Encounters
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  10. #10
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
    United Kingdom: Bridlington
    Another consideration is that private information you supply to corporates, institutions, lawyers, doctors and so on are governed by strict security and non-disclosure rules.

    If they have to keep your personal information safe by law (in most civilised countries) then by implication, you should be allowed to do the same thing yourself?

    You may not have "anything to hide" but just about everyone has things they want to secure. (hey phish~, was it the fishnet stockings and pvc thighboots again?)

    The "nothing to hide" argument is for people who see everything in black & white, with no "grey matter" inbetween?

    "Grey matter" = brain cells

    I believe in the "needs to know" basis (which is very different from "wants"): If someone doesn't need to know information about you, they should not be in possession of it.
    Last edited by nihil; July 28th, 2007 at 04:23 PM.

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