I've Got Nothing to Hide

A little practical experiment:

I was listening to a podcast by Bruce Schneier the other day on the topic of privacy. I found his speaking to be a little less powerful than his blog. However, although I didn’t always agree with his proposed economic or legal solutions to problems, primarily because we have a differing political perspective, he is good at explaining security principles and how they apply to real life.

If you’re like me, when discussing privacy with people, you sometimes get frustrated by people who use the mantra ‘What are you scared of? I have nothing to hide.’, or some variation. I find this a hard argument to win. Bruce gave a simple reply which I’m betting is 90% effective.

If you genuinely feel you’ve got nothing to hide, please append your salary and your name as a comment to this posting. If you don’t (and I suspect you won’t), it probably means you have something to hide. This doesn’t mean you are a bad person. It doesn’t mean you’ve committed a crime. It just means you have good reasons not to fully disclose everything about your life. This is what privacy is about, and is why some people get upset when it’s taken away.


Good point. I'm not sure that your credit card number has the same power though: after all, it's just arbitrary. The only reason we protect it is to stop others spending our money. The reason I protect my salary is different - it says something about my worth, there's the whole boasting/modesty thing at work, plus it doesn't make rational sense for me to disclose it if my colleagues don't. I think salary opens out some more complex personal privacy issues.
It is a good agument, though I would have said put your credit card number up and then you will understand privacy better... In theory, only you can use it, but in practice it is not hard to use somebody elses credit card.
Sooooo tempted....... And then I realised that I could do without the emails of commiseration from my contemporaries and colleagues :-)