Privacy double standards

Matt Colwell

Officials all over the U.S. have used the phrase “If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about” as a rationale to invade our privacy since its very inception. No matter the way you twist this, it’s a scare tactic to make people behave how the government wants them to in high-pressure situations. But let me flip the equation and see how it goes over:

Dear Government,

If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about.

Sincerely, The American People

Oh! Now this rationale doesn’t sit so well with the heads of every police department and government agency. Not only is that a double standard, it’s also completely backward in its logic to begin with. Citizens have a right to privacy. The government does not have a right to my privacy or a right to its own privacy in the first place. The government is accountable and should be transparent to the people. Democracy is undercut with anything less than transparency.

This is not World War II, and I’m not here to feed you bullshit like “The truth needs to be protected by a bodyguard of lies.” When there is a poll on MSNBC asking if a website like WikiLeaks should be labeled a terrorist organization and it sits around 60 percent responding “Yes,” I fear for my freedom, or really, the lack thereof. A movement like that may not be the most peaceful means of receiving government transparency, but at least they’re doing something.

But look, everyone has something to hide, even the government. I don’t expect the government to release the names of our top agents to the world. But I do expect them to reciprocate and let me have my secrets as well. If I’ve done nothing wrong, then you have no need to invade my privacy.

Matthew Colwell is a junior integrated language arts major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].