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RE: Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security


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RE: Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security
Topic: Politics and Law 9:37 am EDT, May 22, 2011

If you see any promotional essays that reveal something about where the book is taking its arguments please post them. Solove wrote:

This book grows out of an essay I wrote a few years ago about the Nothing-to-Hide Argument. The essay’s popularity surprised me and made me realize that there is a hunger out there for discussions about the arguments made in the debate between privacy and security.

This was an interesting essay but I recall feeling like it failed to hit the nail on the head. Oversight is not sufficient to address concerns about privacy violations. The "nothing-to-hide" argument always carries the implicit and falicious assumption that nothing inappropriate will ever be done with any of the data collected...

I recall traveling in southern German a certain feeling of freedom that isn't present in modern America, at least in my interactions with public transportation architecture. Its legal to speed on the freeway in certain places. A gas station attendant was confused when I attempted to pre-pay for gas. You are required to pay to use the subway in Munich but no turnstile enforces this requirement. You can just walk on the train. In New York City the subway system is locked in cages. In Atlanta most of the freeway traffic exceeds the speed limit all the time and everyone is constantly on the lookout for the police while they drive.

There are many ingredients in a free society but *trust* is certainly one of them. Another is not having to look over your shoulder to see if the police are watching you.

When we say we need to go through your computer, we're saying that we don't trust you.

You might ask why - and thats what the fourth amendment's "probable cause" requirement is about. By default, we trust you. If we choose not to trust you, we have to have a good reason for it.

Random, suspicionless searches have no "why." We don't trust you because no one can be trusted.

The random forensic inspection of traveler's laptop computers by U.S. Customs sends the message that no one who leaves the country can be trusted with regard to any information they might carry with them.

And you have to look over your shoulder - you've got to ask, is there anything stored anywhere on my computer that might be questioned by the police for any reason? Even if you're confident that you've got nothing to hide, we still don't trust you. You still have to take stock of it.

If you live in a society where no one is trusted and everyone constantly has to look over their shoulder - you are not living in a free society. Whats lost here is the character of a society and the quality of life living there. These things damage your quality of life in *exactly the same way* that crime and terrorism damage your quality of life - through mutual distrust and fear.

Without the constraints imposed by the Constitution, in particular the 4th Amendment's requirement for probable cause, the efforts of law enforcement would exacerbate and amplify the negative collective impact of crime - just as our over-reaction to failed terrorism plots has caused some people to argue that those plots were nearly as effective as if they had been successful.

RE: Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff between Privacy and Security

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