The Value of Privacy

Last week, revelation of yet another NSA surveillance effort against the American people has rekindled the privacy debate. Those in favor of these programs have trotted out the same rhetorical question we hear every time privacy advocates oppose ID checks, video cameras, massive databases, data mining, and other wholesale surveillance measures: “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?”

Some clever answers: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.” “Because the government gets to define what’s wrong, and they keep changing the definition.” “Because you might do something wrong with my information.” My problem with quips like these — as right as they are — is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It’s not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best: Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? (“Who watches the watchers?”) and “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
From Bruce Schneier’s blog

One Reply to “The Value of Privacy”

  1. I don’t generally like to grab entire quotes from other resources and use them souly as a post on my own site. However I have never heard this whole debate put into context in such a straight forward and persuasive way as Bruce Schneier has in this post.

    For those of you who don’t read his blog regularly, I urge you to start. He is an absolute icon in the field of modern security and I have seldom read a book or blog post of his that I disagree with.

    In short… He’s my hero. 🙂

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