Would you ever find yourself saying, “I do not need to care about locking my bathroom door because I have nothing to hide while I poop”?
And yet, similarly, there are netizens out there still believing that privacy online is not a great deal of importance since you have “nothing to hide”.
Would you ever catch yourself saying, “I do not care about free speech because I have nothing to say”?
Again, probably not.
Because even if you do not have an opinion at this moment, you would still value and expect that you are entitled to one when you wanted to.
“But I’m not doing anything illegal online, so why should I care?”
Would you go up to a stranger you did not know on the street and willingly hand them over every Google search you did, every email you wrote, your medical history, your bank transaction records, or the last item you bought online?
However, essentially online this is what we are doing every day. And we are trusting the strangers on the Internet; corporations and companies who process our data to be handling all our sensitive records.
So yes, you may not be doing anything illegal online, but privacy is not about hiding your information to begin with, but about protecting it.
Repeat after me: “Privacy is a basic human right.”
Lack of privacy makes us behave differently, even unconsciously or consciously.
Humans will behave differently when we are being watched. And that is because we tend to act according to what we believe are social norms.
Would you vote in your elections differently if you had a watcher over your shoulder? Would you withhold on talking about personal issues if you were on the phone in public? Would you be hesitant to buy those pack of condoms if you had a judgmental cashier eyeing your purchases up and down?
Privacy is a fundamental human right, and you should not need to question if it is something you deserve to have.
According to MIT researchers, just “four fairly vague pieces of information — the dates and locations of four purchases — are enough to identify 90 percent of the people in a data set recording three months of credit-card transactions by 1.1 million users.”
And when it came to coarse-grained information about prices of your purchases (information that is not refined), only three data points were needed to have a 94% chance of extracting your credit card records from those of a million other people.
And these could even be things as simple as:
All the seemingly harmless information online will actually build into something bigger. Mass surveillance is relatively cheap and easy. And it will be naïve to assume that there is no one watching you online.
(Read also: Who is Watching You Online?)
Whether you are concerned if your boss might be monitoring your Internet usage, your Internet Service Provider watching your online moves, a government keeping an eye on its citizens, or major corporations data mining you as a product, there are so many reasons why you would (and should!) take better care of your digital privacy.
Little ‘insignificant’ pieces of information about you can be built into greater profiles on you which may eventually be manipulated to cause real harm offline through identity theft, manipulative advertising, biased discrimination, or other harmful acts.