'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy'

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Solove, Daniel J., "'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy" . San Diego Law Review, Vol. 44, p. 745, 2007 Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=998565

I. INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................. 745
II. THE “NOTHING TO HIDE” ARGUMENT ................................................................ 748
III. CONCEPTUALIZING PRIVACY .............................................................................. 754
A. A Pluralistic Conception of Privacy ........................................................ 754
B. The Social Value of Privacy..................................................................... 760
IV. THE PROBLEM WITH THE “NOTHING TO HIDE” ARGUMENT ................................. 764
A. Understanding the Many Dimensions of Privacy..................................... 764
B. Understanding Structural Problems ........................................................ 768
V. CONCLUSION ..................................................................................................... 772

And here is the conclusion

Whether explicit or not, conceptions of privacy underpin nearly every argument made about privacy, even the common quip “I’ve got nothing to hide.” As I have sought to demonstrate in this essay, understanding privacy as a pluralistic conception reveals that we are often talking past each other when discussing privacy issues. By focusing more specifically on the related problems under the rubric of “privacy,” we can better address each problem rather than ignore or conflate them. The nothing to hide argument speaks to some problems, but not to others. It represents a singular and narrow way of conceiving of privacy, and it wins by excluding consideration of the other problems often raised in government surveillance and data mining programs. When engaged with directly, the nothing to hide argument can ensnare, for it forces the debate to focus on its narrow understanding of privacy. But when confronted with the plurality of privacy problems implicated by government data collection and use beyond surveillance and disclosure, the nothing to hide argument, in the end, has nothing to say.