Privacy and the ‘nothing to hide’ argument: 

Privacy and the ‘nothing to hide’ argument

The argument wrongfully equates privacy with secrecy, even though the former is a distinct and much richer concept.

Context:

  • The argument, “I have got nothing to hide” wrongfully equates privacy with secrecy, even though the former is a distinct and much richer concept.
  • The right to privacy includes a bundle of rights such as the privacy of beliefs, thoughts, personal information, home, and property.

Explanation:

  • Arguments such as “I have got nothing to hide” argument represent a common misconception of the meaning and value of the right to privacy.
  • According to the argument, only people with something to hide, or those who have done something wrong, are concerned about the loss of privacy.
  • If one has nothing to hide, then information about them cannot really be used against you.
  • Thus, the argument proceeds that no harm should be caused to them by the breach of their privacy.

Arguments against “I have got nothing to hide”:

  • Invasion of privacy takes a short-term view of privacy and data collection.
  • Data once collected can be used, misused, shared, and stored in perpetuity.
  • Worse, it can be combined with other individually inconsequential data points to reveal extremely significant information about an individual.
  • Surveillance programmes are problematic even when there is no “undesirable” information that people want to keep hidden.
  • It is vulnerability of the citizens created by the system’s use of his personal data.
  • When we believe we are being observed, we are more likely to behave according to socially accepted norms.
  • The change in behaviour, thus, has less to do with the content of our actions, but more to do with the knowledge of being watched.
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