Refuting the “Why should I care about privacy if I have nothing to hide” Argument

Throughout my browsing of various places on the web and interactions with people in real life as well as online, I have often come across a common reply when the topic of privacy is presented. This reply is usually communicated as “Why should I care about privacy if I have nothing to hide?” Sometimes, people say “I am not a criminal, nor do I participate in any criminal activities, track me all you like.” To me, there is no worse mentality than those of the crowd who espouse these replies. It brings to mind a quote from Edward Snowden, “Arguing that you don't care about 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.” Never mind that there are dozens of things we do every day that are perfectly legal that we would prefer not to have other people know about.

I do understand that in most cases, the nothing-to-hide argument comes from a place of focus on the hiding aspect of privacy. Caring about privacy does not strictly mean that you have anything to hide, it's about being able to control how we present ourselves to the world. It is the right to keep things to yourself. It's about personal dignity. It's about personal agency or the feeling of being in control of our actions and the consequences they have on our lives. Privacy should be also be considered under the context of power dynamics between the individual, the state and the market. Additionally, as recent scandals have illustrated so vividly, privacy is also about the autonomy, dignity, and self-determination of people – and it's a necessary precondition for democracy. If all of the aforementioned isn't enough to persuade you, I invite you to consider the following:

The truth is we all segment privacy in our lives and there are a plethora of reasons for doing so. For instance, I share my social security number with my bank. That does not mean that I want to share it with you. They have a legitimate need for it. You do not. And if all of the aforesaid is still insufficient to persuade you into caring about your privacy, then I invite you to read the information at the following websites:

Signed – He Who Fights for the User