When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

23 May 2006

Bruce Schneier: The Eternal Value of Privacy

The most common retort against privacy advocates -- by those in favor of ID checks, cameras, databases, data mining and other wholesale surveillance measures -- is this line: 'If you aren't doing anything wrong, what do you have to hide?'

Some clever answers: 'If I'm not doing anything wrong, then you have no cause to watch me.' 'Because the government gets to define what's wrong, and they keep changing the definition.' 'Because you might do something wrong with my information.' My problem with quips like these -- as right as they are -- is that they accept the premise that privacy is about hiding a wrong. It's not. Privacy is an inherent human right, and a requirement for maintaining the human condition with dignity and respect.

Two proverbs say it best:
Quis custodiet custodes ipsos? ('Who watches the watchers?') and 'Absolute power corrupts absolutely.'

Cardinal Richelieu understood the value of surveillance when he famously said, "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." Watch someone long enough, and you'll find something to arrest -- or just blackmail -- with.

Bruce Schneier: The Eternal Value of Privacy (Wired News)

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