Everybody has ‘something to hide’

Everybody has a reason to hate dragnet surveillance…

Since 2011, the debate around dragnet mass surveillance of internet users has been huge. People from both sides of the political spectrum have come together to talk about how much power governments should be able to wield online. Although most people already assumed that their online communications were not as strong as they should be, the Edward Snowden leaks only served to prove this so-called ‘paranoia’.

While the vast majority of those familiar with the current state of online surveillance agree that the collection of data is far too pervasive and unnecessary, there are still those that believe that the problem is not a big worry. Those who believe that the things they do online do not necessarily need to be private only serve to make it easier for governments to ramp up their intrusive regimes. A common argument made by those who agree with dragnet surveillance is that “You shouldn’t be worried if you have nothing to hide”. I come across this a lot, and I think that it is a ridiculous sentiment.

You cannot define what is worthy or unworthy of hiding based on your own opinion, and this certain shouldn’t depend on the opinion of a government – whether democratic or otherwise. Those who make the ‘nothing to hide’ argument are almost always those who have not encountered first-hand the dangers of an oppressive regime. For those in countries such as Syria, Iraq and Egypt, online communication has allowed loved ones and activists to communicate, though these governments are getting wise to this and beginning to monitor communications.

While it is obvious that those living under oppressive regimes are in dire need of unmonitored communication, many still ask why it is necessary for the average Western man or woman. This lies in the fact that monitored communications data, whether that is meta data or actual content, is often stored for years after the fact. This leads to the uncertainty to the future management of data, under changing governmental situations; Not to mention the possibility of this data being used by nefarious individuals for blackmail.

Adam Galloway
Adam Galloway
Programmer and Project Supervisor. Lover of tea and witticisms, the typical British stereotype. Adores cryptography, privacy and human rights.

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