Arguments against "I have nothing to hide" on digital privacy

"If I have nothing to hide, why shouldn't I give my data to the government or companies like Google in return for convenience and security?”

As someone who cares about and spreads digital privacy, I often hear people say, "I have nothing to hide, so why shouldn't I give my data to the government or companies like Google in return for convenience and security?".

I have multiple responses to that, some my own and some learnt from following wise people on the Web.

  1. Privacy isn’t about hiding things, it’s about your individuality. It’s part of who you are as a human being. If someone’s constantly watching you, even if you aren’t doing anything wrong, you will tend to react and think differently.

  2. A simple example of privacy defining us in day to day life: Everyone knows what you do when you are in the bathroom. And yet you close the door. Every single time. There’s nothing to hide there, your actions are perfectly normal. And yet it is simply personal.

  3. Say, even if you trust your life partner, would you like if he/she was continuously monitoring your chats? Your browsing history? Emails? Nope. So why let conglomerates do the same and make data sets out of you to sell your info to advertisers without your consent? In this way, corporates control what we like and how we think.

  4. Analogical response: To say I have nothing to hide and so to give up privacy is like saying, "I have nothing to say so I don’t need freedom of speech"!

  5. Data privacy is also about data protection. Private data in the hands of others can be misused for theft and fraud. Security and privacy are linked to each other, they are not isolated entities.

  6. Think about health issues. If you or your loved one has some very personal and severe health issue, would you be willing to disclose it to anyone and everyone? Even though health problems are just a part of life. Let’s not even get into shady businesses built around health.

  7. Giving access to all your data to governments and corporates also gives them immense power to control and predict you. And even tame you to be conformal. Maybe today we feel our government is good or that Google’s CEO is a nice person. But lest you forget, organizations are not people. People powering these organizations will change and so will their motives. What will you do when they decide to suppress us all in a manner that benefits them? What if we already are being suppressed and don't even know it because we are born and brought up in such a society?

There’s value and trust build up in choosing to share what we do, think and want. Privacy is an intrinsic right, which if destroyed obliterates our individuality. Digital privacy therefore should not be treated as anything different than our physical privacy.

Want recommendations on privacy-respecting apps that just work? I have you covered.


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