The title of this article is also the title of this piece by Daniel J. Solove and is available via SSRN. This lengthy argument highlights the argument I made in this post about the tradeoffs between safety and security. His point seems to mirror my own. Here is the abstract:
“If you’ve got nothing to hide,” many people say, “you shouldn’t worry about government surveillance.” Others argue that we must sacrifice privacy for security. But as Daniel J. Solove argues in this book, these arguments and many others are flawed. They are based on mistaken views about what it means to protect privacy and the costs and benefits of doing so.
In addition to attacking the “Nothing-to Hide Argument,” Solove exposes the fallacies of pro-security arguments that have often been used to justify government surveillance and data mining. These arguments – such as the “Luddite Argument,”the “War-Powers Argument,” the “All-or-Nothing Argument,” the “Suspicionless-Searches Argument,” the “Deference Argument,” and the “Pendulum Argument” – have skewed law and policy to favor security at the expense of privacy.
The debate between privacy and security has been framed incorrectly as a zero-sum game in which we are forced to choose between one value and the other. But protecting privacy isn’t fatal to security measures; it merely involves adequate oversight and regulation.
The primary focus of the book is on common pro-security arguments, but Solove also discusses concrete issues of law and technology, such as the Fourth Amendment Third Party Doctrine, the First Amendment, electronic surveillance statutes, the USA-Patriot Act, the NSA surveillance program, and government data mining.
The argument is often made that any infringement on privacy, when measured against a potential unacceptable security risk, is tolerable for the protection of our society as a whole. Further, those that resist infringement on their privacy must be hiding something and shouldn’t have such privacy anyhow. I reject these arguments and recommend a full read of this paper.