23rd August, 2017

I have nothing to hide

Still in these days I'm keeping listening people telling me that for them privacy is not important because they don't have anything to hide, but the discussion is much more complex than this..

..and it happened again..

Once again I was speaking to a person about the importance of privacy. The replies that I usually receive are typically:
- I have nothing to hide
- Nobody could be interested in my private life: I'm a common person
- If you have anything to hide, you are probably doing something wrong

Every time I engage in this kind of discussions, it distracts me from defending privacy rights.

Who is feeling protected by the idea of having "nothing to hide" is really wrong: between the concept of being a criminal and the one of "right to privacy" there is a deep gap of comprehension: let's see together mode in detail.

Many people accept that privacy is something that we should give up to have a more secure world, forgetting that what we felt the first time that we opened our first web page: unlimited access to resources and to knowledge, infinite possibilities to discover topics that in other contexts we might have felt embarassed to discuss or to check, for a matter of social position, culture or religion: Internet opened our minds to a new world without almost any limits.

Just a few years passed, but it seems that we already forgot.

If you care about privacy in the same way I do, the next time that you will be challenged about the importance of privacy, please share this article with your interlocutor.

1) It's your freedom

How many times did we hear in recent years that an enforcement of privacy control over our lives is done to protect us from the bad people? People should start to get tired of these explanations. What governments or companies are doing is just about control: like I explained in an earlier article "UK: a legalized privacy violation", controlling everything to be sure to get the bad guys is not something that we should accept anymore. Someone could accept to be controlled, but only if his/her activities could be suspicious and only if a 3rd party, like a judge or a higher authority, might consider that any of his/her activities are harmful. But if a person living within the boundaries of the legality has the desire to keep something private, the wishes of this person should be respected.

2) It's your right

Knowing that we are not watched or controlled gives us the mental freedom to express what we feel and to do what we want without feeling embarrassed or with the fear of being judged: as far as our actions are within the boundaries of the laws and in the respect of the community, there shouldn't be anything that we should explain or justify. Our rights were gained by our ancestors who have fought for years: we shouldn't trade them today to have free access to a social network or to a mobile instant messenger who might try to trace our activities, our surfing preferences or our location. Our way of thinking makes of us what we are: we cannot trade our principles, we cannot trade our lives.

3) It's your reputation

You should be free to manage your reputation. The way we are seen by others might affect our career opportunities. Even if we might not have the opportunity to have a total control of our reputation, we should be at least in the position to protect it from unfair attacks. Some of the information that might be disclosed about us are not necessary important for the job we might want to cover (our preferences about politics, religion or sex), but they might influence someone else judging us based just on some "high level information", without really knowing us, our story or the situation when those information where taken. Moreover, some comment left online 10 or 15 years ago, should not necessary reflect still our current opinion: we are dynamic, we change every day, imagine how much you could change in 10 years after changing a job or a partner, building a new house or having children. Moreover, what has been shared in a private context, like an opinion or a joke, could be misinterpreted, if seen from outside, and having unexpected consequences.

4) It's your private life

Today in some countries is a requirement for people to present their social network accounts to have the right to enter in the country, to get a loan, to get a job, to get an insurance or to have the right to fly. Data could and should be collected, but for specific reasons, for a specific time and, when the specific reason might not be valid or the time would expire, the collected data should be removed. With the big data many information that will be collected about you today might affect your current life, but tomorrow the same information might have tremendous impacts on your children and maybe on your descendants.

In conclusion: in any relationship the breach of confidentiality is like the breach of a trust. In the same way we trust the people, the professionals and the companies we have around, we should demand to them the same respect for our lives and our personal spaces.

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