Issues of privacy are coming to the forefront of our society. Most notably, the continued evaluation of Big Tech by the US Government. In casual conversation I frequency see privacy views as highly polarized, trending towards either “nobody should know anything about me” or “I have nothing to hide”.

I am a stout privacy advocate many for reasons. As such, I tend to disagree with the latter argument - very few people are so pure that they would be OK with everybody they ever meet seeing everything they’ve typed into a search engine. I think privacy is a requirement for personal growth. The ability to form your own beliefs / opinions, approach new problems, etc without unrelenting outside influence has is paramount to development.

I recently stumbled across Moxie Marlinspikes unfortunately infrequent blog. In particular a post titled We Should All Have Something To Hide. I think this post addresses privacy issue much more more ellegantly than I can, including the greater societal effects of disolving privacy. I’ll attempt to summarize …

Often things that are deemed illegal are not morally or socially unjust, rather progressive beyond acceptance. For example, gay marriage, black rights, and smoking marijuana. Unfortunately, the only path towards legality is through persistent illegal acts which advertise the unjustly unlawful. Simply, it’s only through breaking the law that we can fix the law.

This becomes increasingly difficult as technology infringes into every aspect of our lives. Large tech companies are the first that come to mind, mining and selling our data at will, but additionally we see law enforcement increasing tracking efforts through webcam door bells, license plate scanners, drones, etc. With this omniscient information, detecting illegal acts is trivial and if law enforcement becomes 100% effective there may be dire consequences on personal and social progress.

The post goes on to explore the consequences of compromise and the importance of opposition to tracking. I think this is a very insightful read; and just as relevant, if not more so, than it was when originally written in 2013. We see nation-wide protests addressing racial inequalities that are underminded. Global demonstrations against the invasion of Ukraine are met with similar privacy issues, where outspoken Russians are state-sponsered silenced or criminally charged. All things that increased privacy would help protect. Perhaps we may be better off if more people had things to hide.

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