Criminals aren’t the only people who desire privacy. The United Nations recognizes privacy as a fundamental human right, and many countries protect their citizens’ privacy rights explicitly in their constitutions. As the ACLU says, “Privacy is a fundamental part of a dignified life.” It enables freedom of expression and individual autonomy without fear of reprisal.
The “nothing to hide” argument also goes against the principle of “innocent until proven guilty,” a principle which the justice systems of many countries in the world follow. Instead, constant government surveillance of its citizens assumes that all of them are criminals who have something to hide.
Add to all that the fact that we don’t even know for sure why they’re watching us, and what they’re doing with all our data, and we have even more reasons to be suspicious of the constant surveillance.
But there is something you can do to protect your information while browsing online, and it doesn’t require you to be an IT expert or technical genius. Using the TOR browser, you can remain anonymous online and protect your right to privacy. Here’s how to get started.
Snowden walked out of the NSA with tens of thousands of documents on thumb drives, documents that he says he has released to journalists. These documents disclosed the global reach of U.S. intelligence, including descriptions of government surveillance of U.S. telephone and email records, tapping of undersea fiber-optic cables carrying internet traffic, and accessing Yahoo and Google’s internal user data without either company’s knowledge.
When Williams asked, “Do you see yourself as a patriot,” Snowden answered immediately.
“I do,” he said. “I think patriot is a word that’s — that’s thrown around so much that it can devalued nowadays. But being a patriot doesn’t mean prioritizing service to government above all else. Being a patriot means knowing when to protect your country, knowing when to protect your Constitution, knowing when to protect your countrymen from the — the violations of and encroachments of adversaries. And those adversaries don’t have to be foreign countries. They can be bad policies. They can be officials who, you know, need a little bit more accountability. They can be mistakes of government and — and simple overreach and — and things that — that should never have been tried, or — or that went wrong.”
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Edward Snowden speaks about privacy and technology with the ACLU’s Ben Wizner and Christopher Soghoian at SXSW Interactive.