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"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear"

30/04/2014 at 10:40

“If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” is a mantra often chanted by the state when it seeks to justify encroaching upon our liberties and privacy.

The statement implies that there is a natural or logical conjunction linking the two propositions. There is not. Taken separately, it is self-evident that a person can have nothing to hide and yet everything to fear. This is clear when we consider the frequent unauthorised disclosures of our personal data by the state and private corporations, be it deliberate (for economic reasons) or through incompetence.

There is, however, a more serious practical effect that unconditional acceptance of this cliché-infected sophistry has on us citizens.

On 1 April 1933, in Germany, the democratically elected Nazi party declared a
general boycott against German Jews. Their shops and businesses were effectively prohibited from operating, by illegal and strong-arm tactics:
http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/holocaust/about/01/persecution.asp – the holocaust resulted.

Between 1947 and the early 1960s in the United States (the land of the free), Senator McCarthy undertook a witch hunt in Hollywood to root out members of the Communist Party and their sympathisers, notwithstanding that it wasn’t illegal to be a member: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism

This resulted in over 200 people in the entertainment industry: actors, producers, directors, screenwriters being blacklisted and unable to gain employment, some for 10-15 years.

In 2009 in the UK (heralded to the world by our leaders for its tolerance and diversity), the Information Commissioner discovered an illegal list with 3,124 names of trade unionists, other workers and environmentalists, some of whom had voiced concern about health and safety issues on sites.

These people had been blacklisted by the construction industry via an organisation called the Consulting Association:

The victims of these illegal acts committed by the state and other members of the power elite were not breaking any laws themselves– but that didn’t matter to their oppressors.

So I appeal to the state, and its fellow travellers: “Stop insulting our intelligence”.