Topos Technologies

Privacy-Enhancing Technology

Why Privacy?

According to Wikipedia, “The nothing to hide argument states that government surveillance programs do not threaten privacy unless they uncover illegal activities and that if they do uncover illegal activities, the person committing these activities does not have the right to keep them private. Hence, a person who favours this argument may state “I’ve got nothing to hide” and therefore does not express opposition to government surveillance. An individual using this argument may say that a person should not worry about government or surveillance if he/she has “nothing to hide.”

We think this argument is very flawed because:

Privacy is not about hiding, it is about protecting: Would you give passwords to your email and other accounts to anyone? Would you allow everyone to read your social media messages? Would you love to have someone always around who eavesdrops each and every conversation of yours, see your medical records and know about your appointments with your doctor? Or let's go very trivial - why do you ever have curtains on the shady side of your house or even wear pants?

Privacy is a fundamental human right: The right to free speech and the right to assemble are basic fundamental human rights even if you do not have anything to say or protest now. So is privacy. Think about voting, medical information, and banking information. It is obvious that you wish them to be kept private.

Lack of privacy is harmful: You might get discriminated against or harassed based on your personal information or become a victim of identity theft or impersonation.

Location data is sensitive: It can determine where you live, where you work, where you shop and where you hang out with friends. Every modern smartphone detects home and workplace after just several days of usage.

Social media gathers even more: What you like or follow and what applications you use on social media determine what types of ads you will see. Your age, sex, occupation, job title, and every other little detail can also be taken into account for ad targeting. Social media is the best marketing platform we have seen to date. Not only do those details determine what kind of ads you see, but sometimes also what price is shown to you. Especially when you book flights, your metadata determines what prices will be available.

Every little bit counts: Some companies gather emails while others locate where you go shop or eat. Some large search engines even keep your search history if you use their account. Others aggregate all the data and form a complete picture of who you are, where you go and with whom and what you do. As the great article over spreadprivacy.com says - If that feels creepy, it’s because it is.

The “Nothing to hide” argument is flawed and irrelevant today. People who think they have nothing to hide essentially say that they are so harmless and uninteresting a person that it means nothing for them if someone eavesdrops on their lives constantly, which, if explained in detail, will obviously be unacceptable.

Even though privacy is being invaded left and right, you still have the power to protect it in many ways. There are simple steps you can follow to regain control and dramatically increase your privacy level:

• Encrypt emails, messages, and calls. • Change privacy settings on your devices and software. • Use different, more private tools and applications. • Learn more about privacy protection techniques and advanced methodologies

Find out more

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