A lot of people have the “I’ve got nothing to hide” argument when it comes to the topic of privacy. This same argument is also used to advocate against privacy by saying that you have nothing to worry about if you have nothing to hide. This argument seems to pervade all around the world. When a government gathers personal information about its citizens or analyzes it, a lot of people believe they have nothing to worry about. In fact, they go to the extent of criticizing those who express their discomfort over having their privacy invaded by any government, company or individual against their express consent. However, the fact of the matter is, privacy matters – a lot- even if you have nothing to hide.
Why does Privacy Matter?
- First off, privacy is a basic human right that everyone should hold on to. It is not about having or not having something to hide. This basic right is meant to protect all people regardless of such arguments. It is something as basic as having curtains pulled on your windows so your neighbors or any passerby cannot peek in. The same principle applies to not wanting any third party to access your personal information without your express permission. Why should any organization or government have total access to all your private data?
- Privacy provides safety. All your personal information should be kept private and protected as far as possible. When details like your birth date, address, email address, and social security number become available to the wrong people, it can have serious consequences. Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for such data to commit crimes like identity theft, credit card fraud, etc. If your data is not private, you may easily fall prey to malicious attacks. Companies should be very careful about the personal data they store on their employees as well. If proper security measures like encryption of data are not taken, a hack can easily expose all the data to malicious third parties
- Lack of privacy costs you money. The most obvious way you lose money is if a criminal gets access to your financial information. Another important aspect about privacy is how companies use your data. Personal data is used by most companies to target users for advertising purposes. You may have noticed how the ads popping up on your browser are usually about products you are interested in. This is actually a very invasive type of advertisement. Companies track a lot of your online activity and data to know what ads they should target you for. Your data shows you targeted advertisements that often cost you more money than you would normally have to pay
- Privacy is crucial for minorities. When governments start accessing personal information freely, it can have an especially big impact on minorities. It can be very worrisome to have online surveillance when you have oppositional views to what the government in power has. All through history you can find examples of how dangerous it is when people don’t have the right to privacy. It affects the entire society and not just the few people who claim they have nothing to hide. Everyone should have the choice to share or not share certain information with others, especially when it can be used against them
- Lack of privacy provokes unease. One of the simplest reasons why privacy should be given importance is that the lack of it can instill a very deep sense of unease in people. Imagine a situation where you are told that a hidden camera in your house was constantly monitoring you. Would it make you feel safe to know this? Would you be comfortable with the lack of privacy? The same rule applies with privacy in the context we have been explaining so far. The thought of unknown people having access to the smallest details about you or what you search for on the internet can be very uncomfortable for anyone
All of these are just the surface of why privacy is a very important right to protect. Privacy involves a lot more than all of this. The argument that you have nothing to hide is invalid. It is a view that implies that privacy is secrecy and this is not true. Privacy is about understanding the serious harmful implications of lack of privacy.
Each individual should take steps to protect themselves and their privacy. Some simple ways of doing this are :
- Storing your files in an encrypted manner on your local drive, external storage devices, and Cloud platforms
- Encrypting your confidential email on email platforms
- Using private search engines