This is an excerpt from Andre Bacard‘s discussion on ‘Pretty Good Privacy (PGP)’ posted on a newsgroup back in 1995. It just sums up my own sentiments and shows us we really are no further forward 12 years later…
Show me a human being who has no secrets from her family, her neighbors, or her colleagues, and I’ll show you someone who is either an extraordinary exhibitionist or an incredible dullard.
Show me a business that has no trade secrets or confidential records, and I’ll show you a business that is not very successful.
On a lighter note, a college student wrote me the following:
“I had a part-time job at a dry cleaner. One day I returned a diamond ring that I’d found in a man’s coat pocket to his wife. Unfortunately, it was NOT her ring! It belonged to her husband’s girlfriend. His wife was furious and divorced her husband over this incident. My boss told me: ‘Return jewelry ONLY to the person whose clothes you found it in, and NEVER return underwear that you find in pockets!’ Until that moment, I thought my boss was a finicky woman. But she taught me the need for PGP.”
Privacy, discretion, confidentiality, and prudence are hallmarks of civilization.
Privacy permits you to be yourself.
Back to the present, and we have a recent publication on “‘I’ve Got Nothing to Hide’ and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy” available from the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).
In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the nothing to hide argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: I’ve got nothing to hide. According to the nothing to hide argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The nothing to hide argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the nothing to hide argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings.
There is no such thing as ‘nothing to hide’. Cardinal Richelieu said it (in French, of course): “Give me four lines written by a man, and I’ll give you something to hang him”.