An Introduction to the Your Privacy Matters Blog

I started this blog heavily inspired by the revelations of Edward Snowden and on the premise that if one cares strongly enough about a topic to warrant calling him/herself an advocate for it, one should share what knowledge they have learned regarding it. I feel people may benefit from me sharing my experiences concerning certain lifestyle changes, how they relate to privacy practices and how my life has improved or been made more challenging. This blog will consist of all things related to privacy, in both the digital and physical realms, and will be targeted toward the average person. That is to say, one who is only vaguely familiar with privacy and what it truly means in these areas of their lives. Through my posts, I hope to persuade my readers to change their current stance on the topic or at least reconsider it, if that stance happens to consist of neutrality or indifference. Perhaps I can even inspire them to be more conscious of even the most ordinary decisions or actions taken in their lives that may negatively impact their privacy and rights to it.

But why is privacy so important to me and why should you feel the same?

Consider one of your most private spaces, your home. You might secure it with lock and key, you might have curtains or blinds to keep strangers from peering in to your home, you close the door to restroom or use privacy glass for your shower, you use disk encryption on your computer or password protect your email to keep specific information from being accessed by anyone, etc. We do these things because we need and appreciate a certain level of privacy. We want to keep unwelcome eyes away from the things we would rather keep to ourselves. We hold our personal spaces, physical and digital, sacred and wish to deter distrusted individuals from invading them. Everyone has things they don’t want certain people to know. Caring about privacy does not necessarily mean that you have something to hide, it can mean that you simply have nothing you wish to share. I firmly believe that privacy is a human right and it intersects with several other human rights. To name a few:

You may not realize it or had previously considered it, but your right to privacy prevents governments from spying on people (without cause), can keep groups from using personal data for their own goals, ensures we have control over our data and it protects freedom of speech and thought. Without privacy, everything you do could be monitored which could have horrific consequences. You could be tracked based on your personal opinions about anything. If privacy rights didn’t let you keep your work and home life separate, “thought crimes” or what you say off the clock could get you in trouble. In our modern times, it is a right that is constantly violated by physical and online retailers, internet service providers, healthcare providers, the government, data brokers and big tech companies. Often, these violations occur without us knowing. There are mounds of evidence that all of these companies and organizations are guilty of such atrocities. You don't have to take my word for it either, although I will always do my best to ensure that I include relevant citations and sources in future posts for verification purposes.

Privacy is about respecting individuals. If a person has a reasonable desire to keep something private, it is disrespectful to ignore that person’s wishes without a compelling reason to do so. It is about putting a limit on the power of governments and private companies because the more they know about us, the more power they have over us. It is about social boundaries. We all need places of solitude to retreat to, places where we are free of the gaze of others to relax and feel at ease. It enables people to manage their reputations. How we are judged by others affects our opportunities, friendships, and overall well-being. Although we can’t have complete control over our reputations, we must have some ability to protect our reputations from being unfairly harmed.

Who are you and why should I heed your advice?

I am a self-proclaimed privacy advocate and technology enthusiast with an educational background in Information Technology and Information Systems Security, but ultimately an average person, like you. Although, I would argue that who I am, my ethnicity, my nationality, my age, my gender, my religious beliefs or lack thereof, political leanings or lack thereof, etc. are irrelevant. Besides, when it comes to communication, does not the message matter more than the person behind it?

I have researched the topic of privacy extensively and intensely, have read article upon article, followed online discussions, watched the TED Talk by Glenn Greenwald and the interviews of Edward Snowden, as well as read a fantastic book by author Michael Bazzell, an individual who previously investigated cyber crimes on behalf of the government and served as a technical advisor for the first season of the television hacker drama Mr. Robot. What I have discovered in my research I found so appalling I felt compelled to share with the world why we should, nay, why we MUST fight to preserve our privacy. In closing, I believe that my privacy matters and I do what I must to protect it. In the words of Edward Snowden, I don't wish to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something that I am willing to support or live under. Neither should you.

Signed – He Who Fights for the User