I was talking to a friend of mine a few weeks ago and the topic of privacy vs. government protection came up. I made some remark about Federal Air Marshal quota fiasco and the NSA wiretapping scandal and the general gist of the other side of conversation went along the lines of, “Well, they’re just trying to protect us. I’ve got nothing to hide, I’m ok with it.”
While my friend said they understood where I was coming from, it’s hard to understand how they DON’T have a problem with everything that’s going on. Privacy is one of our basic freedoms, take that away, and it’s going to seem a lot more like 1984.
If you’re interested, or want to read a very good, abet long, essay on the topic, check out George Radwanski’s, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, annual report from a few years ago. Favorite quote below.
If information that is actually about someone else is wrongly applied to us, if wrong facts make it appear that we’ve done things we haven’t, if perfectly innocent behavior is misinterpreted as suspicious because authorities don’t know our reasons or our circumstances, we will be at risk of finding ourselves in trouble in a society where everyone is regarded as a suspect.
Decisions detrimental to us may be made on the basis of wrong facts, incomplete or out-of-context information or incorrect assumptions, without our ever having the chance to find out about it, let alone to set the record straight.
That possibility alone will, over time, make us increasingly think twice about what we do, where we go, with whom we associate, because we will learn to be concerned about how it might look to the ubiquitous watchers of the state.
Now, remember this is Canada, not the US, but you can see the similarities.