With three young kids, finding some solitary time to use the bathroom at home can be difficult. Two-year-old Max especially, because of his (welcome) fascination with how the potty is used, will endlessly bang on the door or find a way to force it open.
Perhaps out of a fear they are missing something, Max, Camryn, and Rylin don’t like the idea of closed doors. I do — privacy is golden.
There is a reason we have doors. There is a reason we have online passwords. There is a reason we have locks and window shades and underwear and diaries. Some things are private, and that doesn’t make them wrong.
This is why I’m alarmed at the recently oft-recurring phrase, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about.” It signals a dangerous surrender of the sacred idea of privacy.
It’s a line I’ve heard linked lately to discussions on drug testing for high school athletes in Firelands and Wellington. Drug testing may or may not have its merits — that’s not what I’m debating here — but “if you have nothing to hide” is an invalid argument. Teens, like all of us, should have complete privacy when it comes to their bodies unless there is probable cause they have committed a crime. It’s an idea enshrined in the Fourth Amendment: “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures….”
Insisting on testing, even with the best of intentions, could also force those teens to give up their privacy about what perfectly legal prescription drugs they are using. Patients should be able to decide whether to keep that information between themselves and their doctor and not have to disclose it to the government.
Which brings us to the other arena in which “if you have nothing to hide” has been insidiously wielded as of late: technology.
In February, Apple released a letter warning customers that the FBI was trying to pressure the company to give it a universal key to all iPhones in the name of prosecuting two San Bernardino terror suspects.
Apple objected in the name of privacy: “We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good. Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”
The letter went on: “In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable. The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals.”
Even if you feel you have “nothing to hide,” you and only you should decide who sees your pictures, texts, and emails — whether “clean” or “dirty.” They are yours, they are private, and that is not wrong.