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Wednesday 30 November 2016

(free) Words on Wednesday: "You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide."

This is an extended edit of a comment I made earlier today in response to someone paraphrasing the above remark on Farcebook.

It is itself a response to the news that the UK government has passed the "snooper's charter" or the Draft Communications Data Bill without much of a fuss, or complaint from the opposition, or taking into account the views of those in the communications industry or anything like that. Here's a link to a story in the Guardian. And here's one that explains that encryption technology can also be bypassed by the government with this law.

"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."

          - Edward Snowden

But maybe that's not convincing enough. Here's some other reasons why this is bad for you, if you need to have it made personal rather than seeing why it would be bad if you are a Muslim or a protester or a journalist or someone who uses private data (like lawyers, therapists, doctors etc.)

1. YOU don't decide whether you've done anything wrong, the government does. So, maybe you think you're totally innocent now but ultimately that is not up to you to decide.
2. The rules might change. Now this is law, there's not much we can do if they decide to 'extend' it. 
3. Laws need to change, people need to express opposition to laws, "You have nothing to fear, if you have nothing to hide" is not the language of a democratic society, or a position that allows opposition or difference, it is a weak encouragement of the powerful.
4. Privacy is (or should be) a fundamental human right. If we allow it to be so described, as the 'nothing to fear' assumption does, as a basis in hiding a wrong-doing then we are also allowing ourselves to be labelled as potential criminals straight away. Privacy is about human dignity, it is about having some measure of personal freedom. Wanting privacy doesn't mean you've something to hide.
5. What happens with the storing of this data? What happens if this data is lost, or hacked? When it becomes the property of someone else, someone who does not even have to pretend to have your best interests at heart (like the UK government does) then you might find that this was a bad idea after all.

Big Brother is Watching You