Archive for July 21st, 2014

July 21, 2014

Nothing to Hide Argument

the lives of others

Cardinal Richelieu

The nothing to hide argument broadly states that police surveillance is only adverse to those doing something wrong. By this line of reasoning, government data mining and surveillance programs do not threaten privacy unless they uncover illegal activities, and if they do, the guilty person does not have the right to keep them private. The motto ‘If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear’ was used to advertise closed-circuit television programs in the UK.

Geoffrey Stone, a legal scholar, said that the use of the argument is ‘all-too-common.’ Cryptographer Bruce Schneier described it as the ‘most common retort against privacy advocates.’ He cites French statesman Cardinal Richelieu’s statement ‘If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged,’ to describe how a state government can find aspects in a person’s life in order to prosecute, defame, or blackmail that individual. Schneier also argued ‘Too many wrongly characterize the debate as ‘security versus privacy.’ The real choice is liberty versus control.’

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