Whatever side you are on in the whole privacy debate, you have probably heard variants of the following two arguments:
- I don’t care if the Government happens to read my emails while looking for bad guys, I have nothing to hide, and I feel safer knowing they are doing something; or
- There is no evidence that mass digital surveillance has any positive impact on the reduction of crime or terrorism, so my individual right to privacy (UDHR, Article 12) is more important.
Privacy-is-everything advocates will say things like; “Saying 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.”, or “You can’t give away the rights of a minority, even if you vote as a majority.”
Privacy-as-a-currency advocates will counter with things like; “Saying mass surveillance has no proven benefit is like saying laws are ineffective, you have no idea how many crimes were prevented for fear of being caught.“, or “The minority has no right to impose their will on the majority when personal safety is at stake.”
It makes no difference what side you are on, I will not change your mind, and you will not change mine, but we each much pay the same cost for the conveniences and functionality we have come to expect. And accept the responsibility for our choices.
The Internet and now mobile devices have completely changed the way we do business, interact with family and friends, buy stuff, and according to Ian Morris in “The Decline and Fall of Empires”, they will even ‘help’ change our biology;
“As social development rises ever higher, revolutions in genetics, computing, robotics and nanotechnology are beginning to feed back into our biology, transforming what it means to be human.”
Yet we somehow have this expectation that both the Internet and mobile devices are human rights in and of themselves, that we can do whatever we want on them and through them yet still have an expectation for privacy. Governments aside, how can we be so naive?
From my overly simplistic perspective, the world is made up of three kinds of people:
- The Good – We don’t have to worry about the good, their lives are spent taking care of whatever it is they care about, which is always in-line with established societal norms / laws, and regardless of the area of influence (i.e. immediate family, community, country, or global);
- The Bad – They care nothing for societal norms, they want, so they take. They care nothing for your right to privacy, and outside of instances of gross incompetence, fall almost entirely within your ability to point fingers at if you are a victim. IF you can catch them;
- The Ordinary – Basically decent, perhaps with a little ‘moral flexibility’ thrown in, who may not like the Bad guys, but understand them enough not to be shocked when they do bad things. These are the majority, and the smarter ones prepare for the worse case scenario.
Laws and rights are written to protect everyone, but not everyone can be protected in the same way. I have contended many times that the more ‘out there’ that’s known about me, the less someone else can pretend to BE me. My life’s story is the equivalent of a public ledger, and any anomalies immediately obvious. This is true for my blogs, my social media, my payment history, and hopefully, even my identity itself.
Of course, there are many people who, quite literally, think I’m 100% wrong, an idiot, or both.
Whatever course YOU choose cannot be seen entirely within the context of your rights, especially ones you are spending every moment you are online.
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[Ed. Found this, thought it was well done; Amazing Mind Reader Reveals His ‘Gift’]