Why privacy matters

Arguing that you don't care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don't care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

Edward Snowden

Having the right to a private life is just as important as having freedom. This is even more important in this era of internet as the technology is now advanced enough to allow mass violation of privacy of regular citizens.

What is included in privacy

Information, you should be able to decide who gets which information about yourself. That includes your communications with your friends and family, your financial information, medical records and everything that you would not normally share with a random stranger off the street.

Why privacy is important

Privacy is inherently important to us humans, the same reason we do not usually walk around the neighborhood naked. But privacy has far deeper implications than mere avoidance of embarrassment.

It is your right

You are not a prisoner of your government or of any corporate entities for that matter. You should have the right to decide whether you want to share any information about you or not.

Would you feel okay if the police could just enter your home and search everything whenever they felt like it? Giving up the right to privacy is exactly similar to that. How would you feel if you could not do anything without the government looking over your shoulder? Would you call it freedom?

Corporate abuse of data

If you let the big tech giants to collect your data, eventually they will know every single details about you. Are you really comfortable letting some people you have never met know about what you ate for breakfast, how long you chatted with your mother or when you slept with your partner?

Leaks

Even if you believe that your private data is being collected and stored by the government or tech giants is not with malicious intent, it brings the possibility of accidental leak of that data.

If a malicious parson breaks into their server they can have all that sweet sweet data for easy grabbing. In such a case you are the one to suffer a great loss, the loss of the corporates is nothing compared to that. These leaked data can then be used against you by the malicious persons, whether it be fraud, theft of identity or blackmail.

Preserving democracy

In a democracy the power must lie with the people. In today's world, information is the best power of all.

A benevolent government may not use your data for sinister purposes, but that is not a guarantee for the future. China would be a prime example. But the same could be said about the recent happenings at USA or Russia.

if you are not convinced by it, just ask yourself "why do we have secret ballots if privacy means nothing?"

Fellow citizens

Privacy needs cooperation from your contacts. Everybody needs to talk to people and if you use insecure softwares then the data will be leaked from your end, no matter how careful your contacts are. By maintaining good privacy practices you would be assisting your fellow citizens in keeping their private lives private.

Counter arguments

Of course there are counter arguments to the right to privacy. Let's quickly examine some of them.

Nothing to hide

This is perhaps the most used argument against the right to privacy. It goes something like this, if you have nothing to hide and do not perform any illegal activities then violation of privacy should not bother you.

But why should it not bother you? Are you a prisoner of the state? Why should you let the government and the corporates inspect your every move as if you have committed a crime?

Privacy vs security

This is an often used attempt to justify state surveillance over private citizens. The government might claim that by curtailing the privacy of the citizens and collecting mass surveillance data it would be possible to reduce crimes and preventing terrorist attacks.

Now how effective mass surveillance is, is not really clear and there are other ways to achieve the same goal. Regardless, it is too heavy a price to pay. Would you really be comfortable in living under an oppressive regime with no personal freedom? Look at China, would you be willing to live in a place like that? Is a little security, which can be achieved by other means anyway, is truly worth the loss of freedom for billions of people?

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

Is privacy possible

We do not live in a perfect world. But we can do our best and that might just be good enough. Awareness is essential. If you do not make yourself aware of the threat to your privacy you cannot take action to mitigate it.

Luckily for us, there are plenty of people who understand the value of privacy and many have devised ways to protect it. I am not going to discuss the technical aspects of them as that would be wildly off topic. But I will recommend Signal for private messaging again. You should read about it though as awareness is indispensable if we are to preserve our right to privacy

Conclusion

Privacy is your right and you should not let anyone take it away from you. If you let this essential right slip away you might find yourself in a slippery slope. We are fortunate enough to live in a free country and let us keep it that way.

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E-mail: mondal@agnibho.com