Useful ways to engage in the privacy debate

A useful response to “I’ve nothing to hide?” is “But do you have something to protect?”.

Any other useful ways to engage?


give me your credit card, your pin, your username and password for the e-bank, give me your email password (where I can change all your passwords in any website/app) etc!

Maybe. But, somehow, that sounds specious and disingenuous. When we speak of “privacy” are we usually talking about pins and passwords or is it more often activities? There needs to be a distinction made, in some way. I have a feeling Free Pietje’s friend was talking more about no activities to hide.

Should it matter if we are talking about pins, passwords or activities. If we want any of these things to be private they should be. For someone to say “I have nothing to hide” I don’t think they really see the problem in the first place, so saying “ but you have something to protect” is the perfect response to get them thinking deeper on the implications of their original response.

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That’s the big question.

Basis of privacy

Let me decide who I reveal things to or not at all


Sounds good, but most courts of the world would disagree with that sentiment.

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To most good rules there is at least one exception. Yes sometimes the consequences of remaining silent is worse than giving over private information. Also it is a very targetted case of losing a degree of privacy.

But after all its just a basis and where the “if you have nothing to hide …” is the wrong question. That question assumes there is only 2 answers and nullifies the basis of privacy where privacy is one of having the power over ones privacy. Even if there are circumstances where that can be effectively overridden

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Privacy matters because you cannot trust other people. Individuals are one kind of problem but the worst is the systemic error prone state.

The State must be judged on its worst actions not its best intentions… those of conceit and selfishness, of strong opinions at a distance and compounded too often with the errors of academic technocratic perception that limits and does not appreciate the individual.

The State behaves like paranoid schizophrenia and people and group need their defence against those excesses of error. The State should be inhibited not indulged and should be on the back foot at a disadvantage because it is more base and less nuanced than people are.

We need privacy to defend against the imposition of stupidity… well intended or not.

If in doubt, consider the errors of those who promote such ideas! Good intentions only go so far and then there is risk.


Surely we are all going to want some of our activities to be private too?. You may have ‘nothing to hide’ in the sense of Criminal activities but there are plenty of ‘private life’ issues that you wouldn’t want everyone else to see, or participate in, not just the corporates? But you might also want to be part of selective private groups who share your interests/activities/beliefs and you may also want to exclude others who do not. This isn’t censorship this is a right to privacy.