Do you really have "nothing to hide"?

Discussion in 'News / Current Events' started by Don, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. Don

    Don
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    I was listening to a conservative talk radio show yesterday evening, and the host was bemoaning the fact that Homeland Security has dropped their proposal to record and collect license plate information due to privacy issues. He made the case that 1) license plates are public and therefore not subject to the 4th amendment; and 2) several cities are already doing this (first I heard of it) on the grounds that it helps them track criminals, terrorists, etc. Then he stated those famous words, "if you don't have anything to hide, then you don't have to worry; and if it helps catch bad guys, it's a good thing."

    As I listened to the show, I kept hearing callers make the same statement: "I've got nothing to hide, so they can search me, they can collect my license plate information," etc., etc. I kept getting more and more bothered, but I couldn't find a coherent train of thought to explain my uneasiness about their statements.

    So a few minutes ago, because it was still bothering me, I did a quick web search, and found an interesting article quoting a man named Daniel Solove; and he has already put into words what was nagging around the edges of my feeble brain.

    If you have nothing to hide - but do you? Solove uses the example of collecting credit card data that shows you bought a wig at one store, and a book about cancer at another store. Individually, the pieces of data are meaningless; aggregated, added together, we can infer that you have cancer.

    This may not be information you wanted anyone to know about you.

    Consider license plate tracking. We *hope* that the authorities are entering license plate numbers, and a search algorithm is looking for license plates associated with known offenders or people on a watch list; and that all the other license plate numbers are being ignored.

    We would also hope that credit card data is being searched for specific criteria, and all the rest is being ignored. But what happens when we start aggregating different searches? You can see from the example just how easy it is to aggregate credit card data; now, if that credit card data is associated with a license plate number, and the license plate number was recorded at an oncologist's office or a hospital -- we've increased our confidence in the inference that the individual has cancer.

    Taking the pieces individually does seem make one seem petty and a "rabble rouser" when you cry out about privacy and infringement upon freedoms; but when you start looking at the aggregate, suddenly you start seeing a picture forming; and then you have to ask, "is that information that I want people knowing about me?"

    The other half of this problem is something Solove calls "exclusion"; the rest of us call it "transparency." How are they using the data being collected? How often is the data being purged/deleted? Why are we barred from knowing how the data is being collated and used? Or whether the data is being kept indefinitely, or being searched and then deleted from record?

    Consider our example: Someone buying a wig is harmless. That same credit card being used to buy a book on cancer is harmless, but starts to invade privacy. That credit card tied to a license plate that visited a cancer doctor's office is more of an invasion of privacy. Now start thinking about the "extreme" scenarios: That credit card tied to a license plate, coupled with the address of a doctor's office that is under suspicion for providing radioactive materials to suspected terrorist groups -- well, I may overlook the book on cancer, and start to wonder exactly why you need a wig...and the next thing you know, someone's knocking on your door, and you have to provide the information that you do, indeed, have cancer and therefore your visits are legitimate.

    Is that the America you want to live in?

    The conservative talk radio host kept placating some of his callers by saying that he, too, doesn't trust our government, and that it's getting too big; but he kept coming back to, "if it makes us safer, then I'm all for it."

    These are the same issues that Google, Amazon, and retailers were being taken to task for over the last couple of years; but apparently, if it involves safety/security, it's okay.

    I would remind folks that yes, 9/11 was a terrible thing; but communism is also a terrible thing. I'm too young to remember McCarthyism, but I recall the lesson learned: Even though there may actually be a communist around the corner, or behind a bush, or even under your bed, the true enemy was the "suspicion and subsequent division of the American people that even their best friend might be the 'red terror' that would rise up and kill them and their way of life."

    We have the same situation today: There are bad, terrible, evil people that want to hurt us, our loved ones, and our way of life. But we've gone down the same road as McCarthy, and we're willing to subject ourselves to witchhunts and constant surveillance in order to feel some semblance of "safety and security."

    This isn't the solution. We shouldn't be allowing fear to rule our lives.

    Maybe you don't have anything to hide. And yes, we have people that want to kill Americans. Does that give your government the right to keep you under surveillance? Do you really trust your government enough to believe that the information will not be used? And if it won't be used -- what's the point of collecting it?
     
    #1 Don, Feb 21, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 21, 2014
  2. InTheLight

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    Not really, but that's where we are at thanks to the terrorists.

    So the FBI comes to your door and you have to "prove" you have cancer. So what? The FBI and police detectives routinely ask uncomfortable questions in the course of an investigation. In this example, that is exactly what is occurring, an investigation into possible terrorist activity. Had the authorities not been investigating the doctor for possibly passing along radioactive material they would have never linked the wig purchase, the license plate, and the cancer book purchase together. In other words, the cancer patient would never have been a suspect.

    Would you rather the FBI not investigate this particular person? Not question him? I wouldn't.

    I reluctantly agree. There has to be a balance between security and freedom and the challenge will be to find it.

    Until it is shown that native born Americans are actually engaged in terrorism motivated by a foreign country I don't think your comparison with McCarthyism is valid.

    It's been legislated, so yes.



    [​IMG]
     
  3. Gina B

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    Medical records - another interesting part of your life that can be searched, thanks to the Patriot Act and HIPAA.

    Speaking of lack of privacy - a video on the history of Google was made a few years ago. I think it ran on television, but I don't know if it's available - the one I saw was purchased for educators to use in the classroom. If you're not aware of what information you're handing over when you use the internet, or how handing over something to a third party changes things, become aware. While it is easy to think that if one doesn't have anything to hide, there's nothing to be concerned about, it is still uncomfortable to realize how "not private" we've allowed our lives to become. Just because you're not doing anything wrong doesn't mean there aren't people out there who won't abuse the info.

    It never bothered me much personally for myself, this whole privacy thing, until I realized that this doesn't mean just someone like an organization can get information, but any organization can have a creep working for them. For example, I called a government agency out of state about a year and a half ago about a matter. I was on the phone for under two minutes when the person on the other end mentioned it was cool that my daughter won a certain title. All I did was call from my phone number. She quickly explained that she wasn't being creepy, she just thought it was "really cool." Yeah...it was a smaller town that I'd moved out of a number of years before and I'm guessing she may have just been bored, but it was still just a glimpse into how easy this information can be had. If someone WANTED to find it out for the wrong reasons or to abuse it, not just out of boredom, then what? It's accessed easily enough.
     
  4. Revmitchell

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    We should not have to be placed under any suspicion unless there is goo reason to believe we have been directly involved in criminal activity.
     
  5. Salty

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    Key word - criminal

    When I say that "if you don't have anything to hide, then you don't have to worry;" I am talking about criminal activity.

    Here in the Salt City, the police have a van that drives around town for one purpose - checking licens plates with a electronc "gun" to determine if there are excessive parking tickets outstanding. If so - your car is booted . I believe it is only 3 outstanding tickets that subject you to booting.

    BTW, Don, who is that conservtive talk show host you are taling about. Is there a reason you did not want to name him?

    Bottom line - I tend to agree with In the Light
     
  6. ashleysdad

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    "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little, temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" Benjamin Franklin. I think Franklin would agree that the 4th amendment is n "essential" liberty not to be squandered.
     
  7. ashleysdad

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    "If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom-go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands that feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you and May pposterity forget that ye were our countrymen". Sam Adams. I wonder what he would say about our country today?
     
  8. Deacon

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    I was vacationing with the family in Disney last week.

    For a few extra dollars you can purchase a Fast-Pass through TSA security - NO KIDDING.

    Rob
     
  9. poncho

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    Next time someone says to you "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" accuse them of having a swastika tattooed on their behind.

    If they have nothing to hide they shouldn't fear dropping their pants to prove they don't have a swastika on their behind.
     
    #9 poncho, Feb 23, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2014
  10. abcgrad94

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    The whole argument of "having nothing to hide" is just bogus.

    We have a reasonable right to privacy. If we're not under suspicion for some specific criminal activity, no one should infringe on our right to privacy.
     
  11. Gina B

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    We were looking into that for flying last year. Yep, it's real.
    We ended up driving. My one daughter threw up last time we did major flying and I think they're still mad at us. She throws up projectile style through her nose like a dragon and she did it repeatedly, and I was in a wheelchair at the time, trying to reach down and help clean the floor. We were kind of a mess. They might use our application for dart practice. :laugh:
     
  12. Don

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    So - related to the opening post, the NSA's argument has been that they don't look at content of phone calls; they don't need to.

    Two Stanford researchers have successfully identified a cannabis cultivator, multiple sclerosis sufferer, and a visitor to an abortion clinic using nothing more than the timing and destination of their cell phone calls.

    http://www.theguardian.com/technolo...etray-sensitive-details-about-your-life-study

    If they can determine that from timing and destination of phone calls, what can they determine from timing and destination of photos of your license plates? What can they determine when combining the timing and destination of your phone calls AND license plates?

    But ya know, it's all in the name of making us feel safer.
     
  13. thisnumbersdisconnected

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    Natural and unavoidable conflicts between security and privacy, conflicts that have sparked debates down through the annuls of history, are bound to occur. These centuries-old debates have always been between advocates of national and commercial security and advocates of privacy and civil liberties. That always seems to be the way the argument is split, between those two factions. But that ignores the best way to resolve the issue.

    We must engage in more collaboration and, yes, compromise between security and privacy, difficult a pill as that is to swallow for both sides. Many conflicts can be avoided if the public and private sectors work together to ensure that security and privacy considerations are addressed and adequately represented at all stages in the development of computer systems, corporate policies and government regulations. If we don't talk to one another, then we are going to continue to demonize one another.
     
  14. Don

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    I don't know; seems to me that it's as easy as saying, "we suspect you of a crime, so we're going to look at your phone records and utilize the systems to track your car, via legal subpoena."

    Instead, we have "we don't know who to suspect, so we're going to suspect everyone; we're going to look at all phone records and we're going to utilize systems to track cars so we see who we should be suspicious of."

    And what does that instill? A culture of suspicion, just like what we had with McCarthy.

    The legal system worked, and would still work.
     
  15. HankD

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    You have plenty to hide.

    Remember when the gun owners in a certain city had their addresses publicly revealed for all to see including criminals.

    Your daily comings and goings (traceable from your credit/debit cards), also when you will be on vacation and not home.

    Your home insurance records that give an inventory of your valuables and their location.

    The names and history and comings and goings of all your loved ones under your roof.

    In fact nowadays, just about every fact concerning every aspect of your life is available in hyperspace to some degree or another.

    Not only available to government employees but hackable by the public at large (e.g. Target Stores) including the Stalin and Hannibal Lecter personalty types.

    Please don't you be a Pollyanna type.

    HankD
     

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