“My observation is this: in most societies we [recognize] the right of people to keep secrets. But really there’s only one purpose for keeping secrets: secrets exist to prevent other people from acting as they would if they had complete information. I believe that the type of government and society that will persevere while other forms of government fail and are replaced, is a government that does not recognize the right to privacy, but rather says that everyone in a society has the right to perfect information, so that they can act according to their own best interest.”
Even Facebook addicts feel like they should have control over their personal information that is spread across the internet. Not so for Mr. Dyer. In fact, he truly believes that the right to privacy is not a right at all — but rather an impediment to a greater society for all.
The Atlantic Monthly writer that he contacted, Conor Friedersdorf, expressed his concerns about a society free of privacy.
“I’d always imagined that if an ‘I have nothing to hide’ adherent were to give me access to their private affairs, I’d quickly be able to show them that a malign actor could wreak havoc on their lives with the information they had revealed. Since Dyer granted that he was vulnerable to information asymmetries and nevertheless opted for disclosure, I had to admit that, however foolishly, he could legitimately claim he has nothing to hide.”
“What had never occurred to me, until I sat in front of his open email account, is how objectionable I find that attitude. Every one of us is entrusted with information that our family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances would rather that we kept private, and while there is no absolute obligation for us to comply with their wishes—there are, indeed, times when we have a moral obligation to speak out in order to defend other goods—assigning the privacy of others a value of zero is callous.”
Friedersdorf rightly points out that there would be some uncomfortable, and perhaps unintended, consequences to a life entirely unveiled. He says in closing:
“I’ll be less reflexively dismissive next time someone tells me that they have nothing to hide. This type of unicorn does exist! But I will also understand more fully that if someone truly has “nothing to hide,” it means that they also have insufficient regard for the comfort, preferences, and desires of people who feel differently.” (Atlantic Monthly)
However, there is more at stake here than just exposing an errant wife or a friend’s sexually transmitted disease.
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