Why is privacy important?

youWhen people think they’re being watched they make behavior choices that they believe other people wants them to make. It is a natural human desire to avoid societal condemnation, therefore surveillance often leads to conformism.

This damages not just basic democratic functions but the use of places where people can test the limits of who they want to be. In the private realm lie personal exploration, creativity and dissent. We need places where we can go to explore without the judgemental eyes of other people being cast upon us.

It is detrimental to assume that someone who wants privacy – say a person calling an HIV clinic or suicide hotline – should be treated with suspicion.

There are all kinds of things we want to hide from other people – that we tell our psychiatrist, our lawyer, our doctor, our spouse or a stranger on the Internet – that have nothing to do with criminality”

Glenn Greenwald

We all value privacy but for dissidents and targeted groups it is crucial – and anyone who might fall into those categories in the future.

To be able to find out about breaches of privacy we need a system that promotes openness from both public and private institutions. There needs to be a way to trust the systems we are sharing our information with, otherwise people may find themselves omitting important information for fear of it reaching parties for whom it was not originally intended.