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In discussions about personal privacy and government surveillance, one sometimes hears...

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henslee | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:37 PM via web

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In discussions about personal privacy and government surveillance, one sometimes hears "If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about."  What are some examples of some things that may not be "wrong" but which people would not necessarily want to be public knowledge?



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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 19, 2012 at 5:45 PM (Answer #1)

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The statement alluded to is fallacious on its face. The fact that one wishes privacy does not automatically imply that one is doing something wrong; but that is the import of the statement. There are far too many instances to mention here when an individual is more comfortable knowing that one is alone when legality is not an issue. I for one do not want anyone looking over my shoulder when I am dining with family and friends, sleeping, bathing, dressing, etc. Certainly the ballot box is among the most sacrosanct places where one can express his view openly without fear of retribution.

The right to be left alone, as well as the desire for personal privacy goes far beyond the reasons mentioned in the response above. Everyone shares intimate moments with others from time to time; and only a hopeless voyeur would care to share them with anyone. The desire for private intimacy goes far beyond those whose sexual orientation is not mainstream. None of us are ready for a "big brother" society where the world looks over our shoulder.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 19, 2012 at 2:53 PM (Answer #2)

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There are any number of things that would not be legally wrong but which people would want to conceal.

One obvious example in today's world might be homosexuality.  This is not legally wrong, but many people still have deep objections to homosexuality.  Particularly in conservative areas of the country, a person might not want it to be common knowledge that they are gay.

Another example is that someone might not want their friends and neighbors to know about their financial status.  Let's say you live in a middle class world and are happy that way but then you win the lottery or get a huge inheritance.  You might not want that to be common knowledge so that your relationships with friends and neighbors are not altered by their knowledge of your new-found wealth.

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