If you have nothing to hide, why care about online privacy? That is a question many people face every day as they attempt to fight back against government agencies and private companies that attempt to remove your privacy online. It comes up in regards to everything from agencies like the NSA seeing what you are doing to apps knowing everything about you. While some people like to take a relaxed approach to this that is dangerous. You cannot underestimate the value of privacy in our time. Never assume that it is right for our safety or our country to sacrifice freedom. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.” In this case, you will have neither.
The excuse that most people give to accept sacrificing their online privacy is security. People have this idea that, because the government says it is for security, that it will benefit them in the long run. They think these government agencies will catch every terrorist in every country because of this, or that it will in some way help. The truth of the matter, however, is that it has not helped. It has not made any movement forward in protecting us against terrorism. Even when terrorists used basic methods of communication without any encryption whatsoever, government officials did not find them. These agencies have proven time and time again that they are not capable catching terrorists and other criminals by looking through their online data. No matter how hard they try to push this idea, no facts back them up.
Another excuse is the idea that you should not have to hide if you have nothing to hide. People feel this way because they think there is no harm in letting your information fly free, available to anyone who wants it. It is the government or trusted companies, after all, so why care? It is not as if they could use that information to harm you, right? Well, they could, or at the very least bother you. They can use your information to spam you, to advertise, and to know everything about you, just as a few downsides. It is not about hiding; it is about protecting yourself. If you want to protect yourself and your privacy, then you want to protect yourself online. Government agencies and companies can abuse the information they take, and they have in some cases.
One of the major risks with ignoring online safety and privacy is the fact that it allows government officials to view every person as a criminal. They look through your data and information to find issues. They look at every person like a criminal. In a democracy, that is not right. Every person is innocent until proven otherwise, and our officials should keep things that way. By foregoing that and treating everyone online as a criminal, they damage our rights as citizens.
The ability to communicate without fear of oppression or threat from the government is a vital aspect of modern society. Our current lives depend on freedom of speech without persecution and without threat. If either of these occur, even in small numbers, every individual is at risk. Never say it cannot happen to you because it can happen to everyone. That is the risk you run when you do not care about your own security. No person is immune to it. If you willingly give yourself up to government agencies and corporations, allowing them to take any information at will, then they will. They will take and use the information that you willingly provide, whether you do it directly through acceptance or you do it by not protecting your own privacy.
The reason it is so dangerous is the fact that the government has a wide spread net. They target every person when they collect information, not just one. You, your neighbor, your family, your friends, and every person you do not know is part of this. The government actively works to collect information from all individuals in as many ways as they can. This is going on in multiple countries, too.
If you want to protect your online privacy, you have to start taking steps now. Some steps you can take are:
– Encryption – Encrypt everything. Do not let anyone look at your data, no matter its priority level. Make sure that you keep yourself safe online.
– Browse Anonymously – There are several services out there for this, such as Virtual Private Network (VPN), Tor, Proxy etc. These go deeper than Incognito (Private) Mode, helping you to keep unwanted eyes away from what you do.
– Take Action – Do something about this. Never sit around and let others become victims of spying.
These are merely a few of the steps you can take. If you want to protect your privacy and fight back against those that threaten it, there is a lot more that you can do.