Recently revealed information about spying programs did definitely shake all those that are into IT business & security. I can also notice that, because more and more people ask me for alternatives where they have full control over the data – or ways of enhancing their privacy through Open Source encryption.
This is very much understandable, but what about regular people using IT as means of getting their job done? Or those that use it only for purely entertainment purposes? Out there the situation is much worse from my standpoint: “I couldn’t care less – all stuff I post on facebook is nothing secret”.
Then it’s pretty easy to be classified as a paranoid person or be told you must be obsessed with spying – and all that might inevitably end in you must have something to hide. It seems that someone managed to convince people, that privacy is about hiding the wrong. Why this is not true was explained by Bruce Schneier in 2006 in his article for Wired (and the quote comes from that article – i.e. that we must not accept the premise that privacy is about hiding the wrong).
So how do we explain it to non-geeks, that global spying is so wrong? I recommend reading the following article: http://theconversation.com/nine-reasons-you-should-care-about-nsas-prism-surveillance-15075 – the list of reasons is a very good starting point. Mostly people cannot imagine what kind of information can be extracted from a large data set once proper links can be established. If you have a Gmail account you can try to use the Immersion project from MIT. Out there you can see how much information can be extracted by looking only at To, From, CC and timestamp fields in your e-mails.
To be or not to be a paranoid person? First of all valuing your privacy should not be considered paranoid – and second – taking care of your privacy should not be associated with the need of “hiding something”. These are the misconceptions we have to change – but the first step should be increase of the awareness among the public. People have to understand that their civil liberties are the prize here. You could say: “I have nothing to hide!” – and indeed you might have nothing to hide – but a glitch or an error or your own curiosity can trigger an action among the surveillance kings. And suddenly you have a lot to explain…
If you really wish to see the internals of wire-tapping and deep surveillance you should definitely read 1984 by George Orwell and also read more about Hermann Göring and his ways of “making things transparent”. Both sources are true eye openers and I definitely recommend reading them, so that you could build an opinion on your own.