Mar 112008

When the government (or big business in the service of big government) comes up with a new way to intrude on our privacy, there will always be someone who tries to defend it. “Privacy doesn’t exist”, he might say. “It’s an illusion.”

Or, if it’s government censorship, he will say, “There is no such thing as an absolute right to free speech, therefore it’s fine for the government to restrict whatever it wants.”

I like the way the current Robert X Cringely handled one of those in his Infoworld blog. It’s in the responses to an article he wrote about Google’s unforthrightness about what it’s doing with our IP addresses.

One person responded:

Thinking about this… When was the last time you had your picture taken? No not by your wife, but by a survaliance camera? I bet it was yesterday when you stopped at the bank, had a cup of coffee at the corner coffey shop, how about when you picked up the bagle, or at the grocery store last night. […]

Privacy does not exhist! It is an ilusion…

Cringely cut through the nonsense thusly:

finally, to those who say ‘we have no privacy’ or that it’s merely an illusion, I say this: drop your pants. and while you’re at it, I’d like your social security number, date of birth, mother’s maiden name and home address. post them here if you like.

everyone has information they want, need, and should keep private. the game isn’t over yet.

I think I can also use that on people who say, “I don’t care if the government knows X. I don’t have anything to hide.” The answer is yes, you do have something to hide. Yes, the government knows your social security number, but think of the government official who dislikes you most being in a position to ask you to a) drop your pants and b) explain what you and your wife/lover were talking about in bed last night.