All posts tagged Government Surveillance

The Nothing-to-Hide Argument – My Essay’s 10th Anniversary

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Privacy Surveillance Nothing to Hide Argument

In response to government surveillance or massive data gathering, many people say that there’s nothing to worry about.  “I’ve got nothing to hide,” they declare.  “The only people who should worry are those who are doing something immoral or illegal.”

Nothing to Hide - SoloveThe nothing-to-hide argument is ubiquitous.  This is why I wrote an essay about it 10 years ago called “I’ve Got Nothing to Hide,” and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy, 44 San Diego Law Review 745 (2007).  It was a short law review piece, one that I thought would be read by only a few people.  But to my surprise, this essay really resonated with many people, and it received an unusually high number of downloads for a law review essay.  I later expanded the ideas in the essay into a book: Nothing to Hide: The False Tradeoff Between Privacy and Security  (Yale University Press 2011).

This year is the 10th anniversary of the piece.  A lot has happened between then and now.  Not too long before I wrote my essay, there were revelations of illegal NSA surveillance.  A significant percentage of the public supported the NSA surveillance, and the nothing-to-hide argument was trotted out again and again.  This was the climate in which I wrote the essay.

Later on, in 2013, Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was engaging in extensive surveillance far beyond its legal authority.  Snowden declared: “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.”  This time, there was a significantly large percentage of the public that didn’t side with the NSA but instead demanded scrutiny and accountability.

Nevertheless, the nothing-to-hide argument is far from vanquished.  There will always be a need for citizens to demand accountability and oversight of government surveillance, or else we will gradually slide into a more dystopian world.

Here are a few short excerpts from my nothing-to-hide essay:

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Big Brother on the Cover: 50+ Covers for George Orwell’s 1984

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Privacy Training Blog Big Brother Is Watching You Poster

by Daniel J. Solove

Privacy Training Blog George Orwell

George Orwell

One of the most well-known classic privacy books is George Orwell’s 1984, and it has been published in countless editions around the world.  I enjoy collecting things, and I’ve gathered up more than 50 book covers of various editions of the novel.  I find it interesting how various artists and designers try to capture the novel’s themes.  I thought I’d share the covers with you.

Orwell’s 1984 chronicles a harrowing totalitarian society, one that engages in massive surveillance of its citizenry.  Everywhere are posters that say “NSA Big Brother Is Watching You.”   From the novel:

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People Care About Privacy Despite Their Behavior

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

people care about privacy

It is often said that people don’t care much about privacy these days given how much information they expose about themselves. But survey after survey emphatically concludes that people really do care about privacy.

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The CIA “Family Jewels” Documents

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

CIA Logo

The CIA has recently released about 700 pages of previously-classified documents, some of which reveal abuses in the name of national security. The CIA calls these documents the “family jewels.” The documents were created in connection with a report of CIA abuses for its former director, James Schlesinger. According to a BBC article: Continue Reading

FBI Plans Data Mining Project

Daniel Solove
Founder of TeachPrivacy

Data Mining

Several years ago, the Department of Defense began developing a program called Total Information Awareness, a massive data mining project analyzing personal information on every citizen of the United States. After a series of blistering op-eds and strong negative public reaction, the Senate voted to stop all funding for the program. Continue Reading