Living in the UK, I’m quite used to CCTV. Each and every day when I leave the house I’m captured by an ill fitting security camera as I walk down a nearby street. I proceed to the bus stop which despite living in a relatively low crime area is covered by two CCTV camera’s, for my comfort and security. The bus arrives and this too has several cameras throughout the upper and lower decks, as does the bus station when I arrive after the short journey. After leaving the bus station the city streets littered with CCTV, both overt and covert. I go for a morning coffee and now Starbucks has my image, a police “video van” passes me, a police helicopter is hovering above, it’s mind blowing to even think about it! If I was genuinely concerned I would struggle to leave the house, and even venturing near the window would require an element of courage and bravery.
The fact is I’m actually not that concerned about CCTV. I like the small amount of security it provides both as a deterrent and following any unlikely incident. The neighbour isn’t interested in watching me pass their house so I don’t really care about that. The bus company may only review the CCTV if I damage something or assault the bus driver so that’s not a concern either. Surely the police video van won’t actually be recording everyone constantly and the helicopter has better things to worry about I guess.
Why should I be concerned about CCTV anyway? I have nothing to hide, right?As long as I don’t assault the bus driver, soil my neighbours garden or sell drugs on my way to work then the CCTV is irrelevant.
“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear”
The government and media apply this attitude to justify changes in laws relating to mass surveillance. People don’t seem too concerned that the government can access mobile phone records, see our computer browsing history, review our private communications, telephone conversations and pretty much any other form of communication or interaction we have. The fact is, if you think that this is okay because you have nothing to hide, then you clearly haven’t thought about this enough.
Society as a whole has something to hide. We are all governed by laws, some of which are quite clearly in place to protect people and their property, but some of which are in place to stop you from doing things that go against the interests of the very people who create the laws.
Consider the recent change in attitude towards cannabis use in parts America. Despite long standing laws prohibiting the use of cannabis, it has become apparent that most American citizens actually support a change in law. Had the public not had the ability to break this law and experiment, such a change would not have been possible.
A change in law can only happen if people oppose that law. If people do not have the liability to go against the rules and challenge laws they do not agree with, then change cannot happen and people have no option but to conform.
It would be difficult for anyone to claim they have never broken a law. People break the laws they feel irrelevant, have no real consequence or laws they simply do not agree with. Law enforcement is not 100% accurate so if we know are acting morally and know that we wont actually get caught, we can sometimes go ahead and break the laws without really considering the consequences.
Let’s imagine a world in the not too distant future where we are constantly under surveillance and law enforcement is 100% accurate. Law enforcement suddenly becomes a selective process, as it would be impossible to punish everyone who breaks a law. If you are arrested for one crime they will have the ability to check for any other crimes you may or may not have committed over recent years. Can you safely say that you have not broken a law or evaded justice at some point in the last 5 years? I’m not talking about a serious assaults or fraud here, I’m talking about creeping slightly over the speed limit, not declaring a £50 gift to the Inland Revenue, that time when you were drunk and cant really remember what happened. Do you think it would be in the best public interest to hold you to account for these crimes?
Your privacy is a basic human right and many people fully understand this, but they do not seem to realise when that right is being stripped away piece by piece.
“Stating that privacy is not important because you have nothing to hide is no better than saying free speech is not important because you have nothing to say.”
Ok then, you have nothing to hide. I’ll run with that bizarre idea for the duration of this paragraph. Having nothing to hide does not mean you have everything to show does it? Do you draw your curtains at home when it gets dark on an evening? Do you go somewhere quiet when speaking on your mobile in a crowded place? If you’re on public transport, does it bother you if the person behind is reading your text messages over your shoulder? Do you lock the toilet door?
We exercise our entitlement to privacy every single day without even realising it because it should be a given human right.
Is your Facebook profile public?
Another misconception people have is the belief that “who on earth would want to see what I’m doing online?!”. I can assure you that no one is interested in the funny cat pictures on your Facebook profile, or even what you had for lunch last Tuesday. What they are interested in is public opinion on matters such as politics, world affairs, protest and pending civil unrest. A huge amount of information can be gathered through the monitoring of internet activity, and the technology behind this is improving all the time.
Your activity is stored for a very long time and, as technology and innovation grows, they can return to this data at a later date and gain more and more insight into public opinion and trends. It is a well know fact that Main Stream Media work closely with the government to influence public opinion and attitude. The governments having access to public opinions on such a large scale allows them to control and influence people to their own advantage. It would be naive to believe the government would use such information to benefit the wider public, or to assume the government would not have a keen interest in analysing this information.
“If you think you have nothing to hide, you haven’t thought about it enough” – Mikko Hyponen