You Never Need To Justify Your Right To Privacy

Posted on Nov 29, 2014 by Rick Falkvinge

Privacy is not a luxury or a privilege. It is a right. You never need to justify why you need privacy; you have a right to privacy without any justification whatsoever. The rare exceptions are what need to be well justified.

We are seeing an increasing assault on our right to privacy. Snowden’s revelations gave us a glimpse of how deep the rabbit hole goes: it’s not just that our privacy is being abolished in law; it’s also that various government agencies are ignoring the few protections in law anyway and wiretapping everybody wholesale all the time.

The worst part of this is that some everyday people actually try to justify this invasion of rights. You probably have friends that dismiss the fact that they no longer can hold a private conversation as “unimportant”, or worse, “I’m prepared to give up that to feel safe”. As if – one – they got any safer without privacy, and – two – they had a right to make that decision for everybody else, just because of how they feel themselves?

There is also the everpresent cliché of “If you have nothing to fear, why do you need privacy?”.

A sarcastic but still pertinent and accurate response to that would be;

“If you’re only using it for such drivel, why do you need Freedom of Speech?”

That response illustrates the nature of both privacy and of Freedom of Speech: They are not conditional of what you use them for, or more importantly, whether somebody else’s job (read “law enforcement”) would be easier and more convenient if you didn’t have them.

(For a more thorough response to that dangerous cliché, see debunking nothing to hide).

It is absolutely paramount that every challenge to privacy is discarded by pointing out that privacy does not need to be justified; it is a human fundamental right, as described in the U.S. Bill of Rights, in the European Convention on Human Rights, and the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, among others. However, invasions to privacy need to be justified in every single case – and well justified, not just “because law enforcement wants to”.

Every political battle is won or lost in the language. It’s more than time we remind our friends, who may have just been unaware of this importance, just how fundamental privacy is – and that you never need to justify keeping things to yourself.

Privacy remains your own responsibility.

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