I have nothing to hide!

A sentence, that you hear often when the discussion is going towards security regulations or surveillance attempts that endanger privacy rights.

Why this is wrong at may levels:

The What is “good” and what is “bad” Problem

Well if you ask yourself the question, if you have something to hide, then you will judge this by the means if you have done, are doing or being involved in something “bad”. Or if you own something, that is somehow “bad”.

The Problem here is that “good” or “bad” are no clear fixed objective categories. We could refer to the laws and/or moral standards to decide wat is good or bad. But maybe there are other things which might not be “bad”, but you still have an interest, that not anyone knows about that. Maybe a disease or a romantic interest.

Legal or Illegal

First of all, is everything “good” that is legal? And is everything bad, that is illegal?

I don’t think so! If it is legal to torture people, then this is not “good” to torture people. If it is illegal to raise your voice against injustice, then it is still nothing “bad” to raise your voice against injustice.

And what is legal or illegal, can be completely different depending on where you are. It can also be totally different depending on when you are. And even, if we do always want to believe, that our law system is reliable: It is indeed not.

We can look to countries like Russia or Turkey where people go to jail today for things had had been no problem 10 Years ago in those countries.

Moral or Amoral

But if we judge “good” or “bad” by moral standards. Well then it is even worse. Make an experiment and ask 5 people on the street for their moral judgement on 3 topics, like marriage, death penalty or capitalism. I would bet, that you will rarely receive 2 identical answers.

And also for those moral standpoints that are the current “mainstream opinion”: You have to admit, that they can change rapidly. Thanks to social media nowadays this sometimes happens within hours.

Even if you are and you have nothing to hide (today at the place you are right now) Are you really sure that this will still be the case tomorrow or if you go to another place?

Does this feel inbalance?

Okay, what I discussed above is a little theoretical.

Let’s put it down to a particular example:

The EU commission is planning to omit messaging service providers to scan their user’s behavior, whether they send images, that might be illegal or if they send messages that are abusive. In this case, the service provider shall scan for sexual abuse against children. (refer to the link list below for more information)

So, you do neither produce or share child porn? And you are not grooming child’s? (I really hope you don’t otherwise I’d like you to leave my site) Then this is no problem for you right?

Well I don’t do this either, but I think it is a problem. So this surveillance attempt is probably a little bit abstract for many people so let me put into the real world:

Imagine, from tomorrow on someone would come to your house, let’s say any week. And he check your complete correspondence, crawl your sleeping room, your office your living room, the kitchen, the car and any other place. He’ll force you to open your safe if you have one and show your smartphone.

This person is working for a private company. But if he would find something, that could be child abuse, then he will report this to the authorities.

You have nothing to hide, right? So that wouldn’t be a problem for you, right?

The „what will it be used for next“ Problem

Well, let’s say until here you are still fine. Let’s say you are willing accept these controls, because you weigh the fight against child abuse as more important as your personal integrity. Fine!

But there is still one problem left: Once a tool for surveillance is available, it is just a question of time how long it takes that someone wants to fight another “bad” thing. And he will. So, what will it be? Terrorism? Organized Crime? Still bad things, but the next reasons may be fraud or theft. And then it might be drug use or your tax declaration. And finally, it will be anything you can think of.

There are dozens of examples in the past where it worked exactly like this. And there is no example where it did not.

But even if you trust in your government and your authorities (what I do as well) what about the person that is dawn raiding you? Don’t you think, that this person might find something in your house that is totally ok, but also of interest for him? Maybe he sells his knolege to the insurance or a burglar gang …

Conclusion and Links

Ok so if you still believe: “No problem! I have nothing to hide” then it is your decision 😉

Links Regarding CETS 201:

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