“if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear”

The common argument for all the information that the authorities can lawfully collect about each of us is that “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear”. That argument has so far prevailed in the United Kingdom. I cannot send an email without the right of someone in authority being able to read it. I cannot travel to work without my journey (in my case five miles) being recorded by “security” cameras which will store details not only of my exact route and means of transport but also the precise times involved.

I cannot walk down most streets in central London without my image being taken by a camera either operated by an authority or operated by someone obliged to hand the recording to an authority. If I use a supermarket loyalty card (I do not use one in fact) my spending habits can be examined. If I use a credit or charge card (and these days it is almost impossible to avoid using one) my purchases can be examined. In some places the refuse collection authorities even spied on our rubbish, examining it and weighing it.

And the essence of all this invasion of my privacy in a pointless and uncaring manner is that the authorities have operated on the basis that only those guilty of a crime would object to all this information being collected or collectable.

But that is a poor reason to surrender details of your life in almost every essence to the authorities. It is based upon two suppositions.

The first supposition is that the authorities will always act in a benign and lawful way; that they will have no reason to examine lawful behaviour. But what is deemed “lawful” behaviour changes with governments. One day it is unlawful to export British currency without permission; the next day you are allowed to send as much of the stuff out of the country as you wish and in any form. One day no one can discriminate against you on the grounds of your religion. The next day members of a religion are lawfully rounded up and herded into prisons. There is no divine power that will ensure that our governments will always be both democratic and respectful of our rights, although democracy is but the occasional election of people from a chosen pool .

You might consider it far fetched that our Great British democracy may one day come to an end, but no doubt the Tsar thought that he would never lose power and King George III imagined that he and his line would rule over the North American colonies in perpetuity. A malignant government in Britain would always have access to details of our individual behaviour. By reading our credit card statements they can see what books we buy. It would be an easy way to round up potential trouble makers.

The second supposition upon which we can be lawfully examined in every detail of our lives is that every single one of those charged with the collection and storage of information are perfectly competent and perfectly honest. Clearly we have some way to go on the competency stakes as so much data has been either mislaid or inadvertently released. Clearly there will always be someone working with data who can be bribed or who may have his or her own reasons for releasing some data into the public domain. After all, that is part of the reasons why newspapers thrive and pay so much money for information.

It seems to me that our principles should be transparency with information in public matters (for example releasing salaries, bonuses and expenses of those working in publicly funded bodies) with privacy for the rest of the nation’s individuals.

Instead we have little transparency in public affairs and little privacy in our personal affairs. It is not “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear” but “if you expose your life you have got something to fear”

6 Responses

  1. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-for ever.” – George Orwell

  2. Fear is the very tool that all previous controlling powers use against a populous, its how we are all kept in our place, as time goes by we are squeezed a little more every day, both in the pocket and in the mind.

    Why on earth do you think they employ so many poeple to do that dirty work for them, The Tavistock institute, Common Purpous and many other stupid money wasting red tape departments are on the constant look out for all reactions created by the governing ruling parties rules, or should that spell ruining party, because the one we think is doing the ruling isn’t at all.

    Collecting information for profit and just in case something does happen is totally unsane, as long as we are governed by those who put bullets bombs and banks over anything else we are going nowhere fast.

    It all comes down to money, I suggest we all watch the film here to see the error of the banking ellite and the ways in which they are all making us suffer.

    http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTcyMjM1MjE2.html

    Then work out who is hiding something.

  3. […] “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear” Posted on August 20, 2010 by Orwell's Dreams Image via Wikipedia The common argument for all the information that the authorities can lawfully collect about each of us is that “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear”. That argument has so far prevailed in the United Kingdom. I cannot send an email without the right of someone in authority being able to read it. I cannot travel to work without my journey (in my case five miles) being recorded by “security” cameras which will store details not … Read More […]

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Happyhoore, paul santos. paul santos said: “if you’ve got nothing to hide you’ve got nothing to fear” http://bit.ly/9oWPVz […]

  5. Hmm it appears like your website ate my first comment (it was super long)
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  6. I was curious if you ever thought of changing the structure of your blog?
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