Responses to the “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide” comments

In the US, we are accustomed to certain levels of privacy.  Many politicians at all levels of government want to reduce our expectations of privacy.  From installing cameras everywhere (including inside private homes) in a certain town in Texas to illegal wiretaps on US citizens to the previous uses of Carnivore to gather online communications we have faced constant intrusions into our privacy.  So many governmental apologists would respond that if you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to hide.  The natural corollary to this would be that you have nothing to worry about from being spied on illegally by the government.

For those of you that are not satisfied with that claim, perhaps you’d like to try some of these responses to people who tell you that?

The idea that “if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about” assumes that the government is full of good people that would not abuse their power, ever. Even if this were true now, we cannot be sure it’ll be true in the future. The US Republic was founded on the idea that humans are corruptible and we need to have checks and balances against corruption built into our government. Because corrupt people will oppress those who have done nothing wrong.

. . .

So whenever I hear the nothing to worry about line, I usually respond with something along the lines of “yeah…, isn’t that what Stalin used to say?” It usually shuts them up, but won’t change anyone’s mind.

. . .

It honestly doesn’t matter what you think or “feel” about who should be carted off, and how. We have a Constitution in this country that guarantees every American citizen the right to face his or her accusers in a court of law. This is the law. It is not up for debate:

“No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

I know plenty of people who will disagree with my belief that I’m still entitled to privacy, even though I’m doing nothing wrong.  I don’t want the government watching me just because someone wants to.  If the government wants to watch me, there are legal means to do so.  And until those legal means are pursued, no one has a right to watch my every move just out of curiosity or just in case.

[tags]US citizens’ right to privacy[/tags]