Useful Oneliners To Defend Privacy In Any Discussion
By Rick Falkvinge
It’s happened to all of us. We’re asked why we bother defending our privacy, in a defeatist attitude – or worse, accused of having bad intentions when we’re merely safeguarding our rights because nobody else is doing it for us. Here’s a handful of useful retorts when somebody questions your right to privacy.
Most people who question your fight for privacy – even your underlying right to privacy – are just repeating clichés and haven’t really considered what they are saying. If they did think about what they were saying really means, they may be horrified. Alas, some people may need such a wake-up: privacy is a right that was hardwon, and one that is easily lost.
Here’s a few useful lines to drop into such conversations.
– Why do you encrypt your correspondence?
– Why do you lock the door when you go to the bathroom?
(– But I haven’t done anything wrong!)
(– Right. There’s nothing illegal going on in the bathroom, despite you locking the door. You probably just think you have a right to have that activity to yourself anyway. So do I.)
– Why are you even bothering trying to protect your privacy? People are publishing everything anyway these days, there’s no point in having laws to protect privacy any longer.
– Because there’s a crucial difference between something done with your consent, where you publish something willingly, and something forced upon you. Just because you published one paragraph from your private diary, that doesn’t give anybody the right to go in and take all the rest of it by force. The net generation is much more aware of this than you would believe at first. I’m sure you understand the concept of consent, yes?
– Laws must be obeyed. The land is built on rule of law. The law must be able to be enforced!
Try responding, with the risk of invoking Godwin and/or quite a bit of shocked anger:
– So you would have turned in Anne Frank? She was a fugitive of the law of the land, you know. She was a criminal, and everybody who didn’t report her was a criminal, too. Laws vary, and the only thing they have in common is that they’re made to serve those in power at the moment. If you’re leaning on the code of law to find ethical behavior, you’re going to be disappointed.
– But think of all the terrorists! The government must be able to see what they do!
– Yeah, imagine if we could get rid of all the terrorists. Imagine if we could make an experiment with that. Just imagine if we could split a land down the middle, and in one half, we had no unemployment at all, and barely any crime. In the other half, we had total runaway unemployment and rampant terrorism – the kind of terrorists that shoot innocent people, not the disagreeing peaceful protesters the government likes to call terrorists because it sounds like a bad word. Can you see this experiment? Good. Because it actually happened. They had to build a huge wall to keep people from moving to the side with crime, unemployment, and real terrorists. Eventually, they started shooting people who tried to jump the wall anyway. People were literally risking their lives to attempt a move to the half of the country with terrorism and unemployment. That wall came down in 1989. The lesson here is that the cure for terrorism is many, many times worse than terrorism itself – it is totalitarian repression, and that’s where we’re heading under a myriad of good excuses.
– I don’t have anything to hide, so I don’t care about privacy.
Try responding, in the paraphrased words of Edward Snowden:
– So I assume that when you have nothing to say, you don’t care about freedom of speech, either.
Sometimes people need to learn that clichés aren’t just blasé, they can actually be dangerous. This is one such area.
July 16, 2015 at 08:06PM
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