"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of." This is perhaps the most well known slogan of anti-privacy advocates and would-be totalitarians the world over. At one and the same time, this simple statement both criminalizes the practice of privacy while excusing some of the most heinous attacks on the rights and liberties of individuals by governments and corporations.
Of course, the notion that "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of" is absurd on its face, at least in any society that is predicated upon the civilizational principle separating the public and private spheres. Perhaps the simplest way to undermine this dangerous idea is to ask some rather simple questions of those who espouse it. For example: What is your name? What is your Social Security Number? What is your bank account number? What is the password to your main email account?
Recently, we decided to head out onto the streets of New York City with actor and comedian Adrian Sexton to ask folks if they agreed with the statement "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to be afraid of." And if they answered in the affirmative, we then asked them to provide us with rather sensitive information. Some of the replies were rather surprising. Check it out below: