Responding to a popular reaction to news of the National Security Agency’s massive data collection program, blogger Daniel Sieradski started a Twitter feed called “Nothing to Hide.” He has retweeted hundreds of people who have declared in one form or another that they are not concerned that the federal government may spy on them. They say they have done nothing wrong, so they have nothing to hide. If it helps the government fight terrorists, go ahead, take their civil liberties away.
In his blog, a frustrated Sieradski listed many of the abuses of power our federal government is known for; he is not happy with the “nothing to hide” crowd.
There are many, many reasons to be concerned about the rise of the surveillance state, even if you have nothing to hide. Or rather, even if you think you have nothing to hide. For those confronted by such simplistic arguments, here are a three counterarguments that perhaps might get these people thinking about what they’re actually giving up.
1. Every American Is Probably a Criminal, Really
That Americans think they have nothing to hide in the first place is a sign of how little attention they’re paying to the behavior of our Department of Justice. Many Americans have run afoul of federal laws without even knowing it. Tim Carney noted at the Washington Examiner:
Copy a song to your laptop from a friend’s Beyonce CD? You just violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Did you buy some clothes in Delaware because they were tax free? You’re probably evading taxes. Did you give your 20-year-old nephew a glass of wine at dinner? Illegal in many states.
Citizens that the federal government wants to indict, the federal government can indict if it monitors them closely enough. That’s why it’s so disturbing to learn that the federal government doesn’t need to obtain a warrant on us in order to get our emails and phone records.
Attorney Harvey Silverglate even wrote a book about it, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. The Department of Justice has been notably and egregiously using federal laws to destroy lives. Former Tribune employee Matthew Keys is facing federal charges and possibly prison time because he gave his old password to a member of A