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Got Something to Hide?

Now that the so-called D.C. Madam Deborah Jean Palfrey has posted her phone records on the Web, some people in and around the Beltway may be wondering whether they have something to hide, as one senator apparently did. Others, however, may be boldly proclaiming, "Bring it on -- I've got nothing to hide." To those others, George Washington University Law School professor Daniel J. Solove probably would say, "You're missing the point."

In a recent essay, 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy, Solove examines the "nothing to hide" argument in the context not of escort phone lists but of government surveillance and data mining. "The reasoning of the argument," he writes, "is that when it comes to government surveillance or use of personal data, there is no privacy violation if a person has nothing sensitive, embarrassing, or illegal to conceal." But that, he argues, shifts the focus from the real issue, that of the kinds of oversight and accountability we want in place when the government engages in searches and seizures. He sums it up this way:

"The problem, in short, is not with finding an answer to the question: 'If you’ve got nothing to hide, then what do you have to fear?' The problem is in the very question itself."

[Hat tip to beSpacific.]

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on July 10, 2007 at 06:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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