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Privacy Is Not Just For Evil-Doers

November 2, 2009 - 5:00am
Nick Coons by Nick Coons

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Government cameras seem to be going up all the time, more so in the UK than in the US. In the UK, they routinely use these cameras for covert spying on individuals. And even for minuscule things like failing to recycle. Those who are either for government spying or are indifferent to it -- whether the spying be in the form of cameras, wiretaps, viewing your mail, or any number of methods -- will ask, "If you have nothing to hide, then what's the problem?"



A 40-year-old mother in England, Jenny Paton, was followed covertly by government agents after enrolling her children in school because of suspicions that she used an incorrect address (but she hadn't). Photographers secretly followed her, and the education department sifted through her telephone records. In England, all of this is perfectly legal, and without a court order.

Indeed, what is the problem? Why is privacy important if you're not doing anything wrong. "Do you have something to hide?" as the question is often stated.

Perhaps you do have something to hide, and perhaps it's something perfectly legitimate at that. When protests of invasions of your privacy are met with such mundane responses, ask the questioner if they'd be agreeable to installing cameras in their bathroom. After all, if they have nothing to hide, if they're not "doing anything wrong", then what's the problem?

As the question implies, there are legitimate reasons for wanting privacy, and wanting privacy does not mean that you're making pipe bombs to blow up school children.

There is certainly a difference between an expectation of privacy on private property behind closed doors, and an expectation of privacy in public. I don't have an expectation of privacy in public. From a privacy standpoint, I don't have a problem with cameras in public (my problem with cameras in public is that not only are they installed at taxpayer expense, but they are only accessible by a select few, namely not the people who paid for them). Phone records are also private, specifically if there is a privacy policy provided by your phone company. So the invasion of privacy here would be in the form of government overriding any agreements you might have with your phone company to keep your information private. Can you as an individual go to the phone company and demand the records of their customers? Then why can the government?

If someone questions you desire for privacy, remember that they are usually trying to implicate you in some nefarious activity. Respond in all honesty, that yes, you do have something to hide, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that!



Related Content:

Real ID, PASS Act Deadline Extension - Nick Coons
National Security and a Bloated Bureaucracy - Austin Raynor
National ID and Personal Privacy - Austin Raynor


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