The Eternal Value of Privacy

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. Privacy is important because without it, surveillance information will be abused: to peep, to sell to marketers and to spy on political enemies -- whoever they happen to be at the time.

Privacy protects us from abuses by those in power, even if we're doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.

We do nothing wrong when we make love or go to the bathroom. We are not deliberately hiding anything when we seek out private places for reflection or conversation. We keep private journals, sing in the privacy of the shower, and write letters to secret lovers and then burn them. Privacy is a basic human need.

I have always respected Bruce Schneier, he a security guru and a brilliant man whose books ive bought and learned a great deal from. He also writes a brilliant article about our need for privacy and takes apart the 'nothing to hide' argument (which is total crap and you can read other articles here and links to their respective papers to understand why). The simple quoted part of the comment he writes explains enough for any rational person to understand our need for privacy. The rest of the article is worth the 2 minutes of your life too, click and read. Educate yourself on privacy.

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