"I have nothing to hide."

December 25th 2020 | ~ 3 minute read

Please don't say that.

I've brushed upon the topic of surveillance in one of my previous blog posts. This time I'll tackle the bigger picture, privacy.

As many times as I've tried to convince people internet surveillance isn't acceptable I've heard this lazy excuse. I call it lazy because that's just what it is. It fails to consider and outright rejects our fundamental right as human beings, the right to keep some aspects of our lives under wraps, for none to see. The argument is as simple as it is flawed. More often than not this line of thinking can be attributed to blissful ignorance. Most people aren't technology nerds, most people don't understand the underlying mechanisms that enable surveillance on a scale never seen in the history of mankind.

You may say you've got nothing to hide, but this is far from the truth. You probably wouldn't allow others unrestricted access to your private messages, so why do you allow your data to be taken without your consent? And you didn't consent, none of us did, no matter how many shady EULAs you've clicked "agree" on. You didn't agree to have your data taken from you and sold to advertisers for obscene amounts of money. No, you wanted to talk to a friend or a loved one. And yet, legally, you sure as hell agreed. You've signed an unfair treaty, one that doesn't view you as a human, but as a data mine ready to be exploited for profit, just another commodity of the digital age. Because that's what human lives are in this Orwellian nightmare, commodities.

When you say you've got nothing to hide, do you truly understand what that implies? When you allow your face to be used with a hip new Snapchat or Messenger filter to train their AIs don't you think about the consequences? When you allow giant corporations to build complete profiles of your personality to target you with ads don't you get uneasy about just how accurate those profiles are? And for what? For superficial commodities like shirts and video games?

What can be abused will be abused. Most companies in the advertising business just collect data in the hopes that one day it'll be useful. Facebook and Google keep their data indefinitely, you can't request deletion. They're allowed to do this because we let them. We're told that surveillance is the price we pay for free content while that's literally the furthest thing from the truth. There are tons of successful companies that rely on ordinary "dumb" ads to generate profits. But the goal here isn't to generate enough profit to survive as a business, the goal is to generate as much profit as possible.

Your privacy is important, maybe the most important thing you own. Don't let these companies get away with identity theft. Make a stand, value your privacy. There are many things you can do to take back control.

Use a privacy respecting web browser, block third party cookies by default, install uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger, avoid websites that require personal information to interact with them (Such as your name or email address), use free and open source software that's transparent about what it does, the list goes on...

In conclusion, we need to say no to these companies that treat us like data mines and commodify every aspect of our lives. We've all got something to hide. Our privacy is our right, don't let anyone tell you otherwise!