Beware of the ‘Nothing To Hide’ Argument

Cause it's not about having something to hide, it's about having the right to privacy...

nothing to hide

Chances are you have heard someone unknowingly (or knowingly) justifying the lack of privacy on the Internet with an argument that he/she has “nothing to hide.” That is seemingly an innocent response to a burgeoning problem which is almost the total absence of privacy online, with a number of different entities looking to get as many personal details about each one of us as possible.

We are talking about well-known companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon, as well as many little-known players that are scattering the Internet and placing their trackers across the board to create digital profiles of all of us — so they could later serve us more relevant ads. And make us buy more stuff.

But I digress; let’s get back to the “nothing to hide” argument.

How did we get to that argument in the first place?

Originally, it stems from the phrase “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” — and somehow, it was adapted to the digital age where we accept to be tracked in order to get something (access a service) for free. Alas, while that seems nice on paper, in reality all that information effectively turned Internet users into products. Each one of us has a line in some spreadsheet (or that’s a database) that suggests underlying algorithms information such as what we like, what we don’t like, and ultimately – what kind of a product or service we would be interested in.

When you think about it, this is a form of weaponizing information. Once collected on a massive scale, this data pool gives a ton of power to the companies that collect that data.

Alas, in the beginning, these companies were startups, and the data they collected wasn’t that big. Over time, however, the amount of data they collected increased, and so has their capacity to process that data and use it against us. Not to harm us, mind you, but to sell us more stuff.

So, at first, we were happy that GMail offered 1GB of free email storage and that Facebook allowed us to keep up with our high school friends. Then came the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, and we realized just how powerful that massive set of data can be.

Still, not everyone believes this is a true danger to democracy.

Why should you care?

In reality, most people have nothing special to hide. It’s the celebrities who are trying to keep a part of their life private, whereas most people don’t care about you and me.

Nevertheless, privacy is our right, and we wouldn’t tolerate someone collecting our data in such a way before the Internet. Yet, suddenly, when it’s online – we don’t care?

I don’t buy that argument, as we know that our data could be used AGAINST us. Those “related” have pretty much-forced millions to spend money on things they don’t necessarily need. Also, many of these details, if they are available to other parties, could lead to you not getting the job or perhaps even having to pay a higher insurance premium. Here are some examples of ways how your personal data can be used against you:

  • Employers can use personal information they got from a third party as part of their hiring criteria during interviews
  • Insurers can use data to determine the cost of premiums
  • Landlords can use your employment history and financial checks in their applicant process
  • Universities can use social media activity to vet future students
  • Private companies can sell or sell your information for profit without consent
  • Algorithms can exploit your activity and habits to maximize corporate profits
  • Government agencies can access virtually everything

As you can see, things could quickly get out of hand if we don’t take our right to privacy seriously. As Edward Snowden has put it:

“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.”

Like him or not, we think there is something in those words.

How can you protect your privacy?

Whether you have something to hide or not is irrelevant. There is no need to give away your personal information to anyone on the Internet. And for that, we suggest you start by using a VPN on all your devices. Not just your computer but also your phone and a tablet, if you have one. Heck, you can even set up your router to work with a VPN so that all your devices in the home are protected.

A VPN will change your IP address, and by doing that, it will also hide your real location. Instead, the rest of the world will see you accessing the Internet from some other city or country. Also, it will encrypt all data flowing between your device(s) and the rest of the world, thus protecting you from the so-called “man in the middle” attacks. These kinds of attacks presume a hacker snooping into your traffic to get to grab your passwords and personal information, and in case you wonder – they have been increasing in popularity in recent years.

But where to start, you may wonder? Hop over to our page with the Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there. All services listed there have been field-tested for years and won’t let you down no matter what you throw at them. So, if you still don’t have a VPN – now’s the time to change that. Yes, you can always thank us later. 😉