I’ve got nothing to hide, so why should I care?
This argument is commonly used in discussions regarding privacy. Colin J. Bennett, author of The Privacy Advocates, said that most people “go through their daily lives believing that surveillance processes are not directed at them, but at the miscreants and wrongdoers” and that “the dominant orientation is that mechanisms of surveillance are directed at others” despite “evidence that the monitoring of individual behaviour has become routine and everyday“.
Most of us do value our own personal security/privacy more than we think. “Imagine upon exiting your house one day you find a person searching through your wheelie bin painstakingly putting the shredded notes and documents back together. In response to your stunned silence they proclaim ‘you don’t have anything to worry about – there is no reason to hide, is there?”.
Of course, most likely you don’t have anything suspicious to hide, but do you really want them looking at your bank statement, seeing receipts for things you’ve bought, letters from your children’s school…even the number of wine bottles in your recycling might be embarrassing?!
Your technological life is no different – you might not be breaking state secrets online, but would you want someone reading your private texts or messages? The heartfelt message to a loved one, an angry text to a friend, something mean said on the spur of the moment? It is essentially the same as your offline life.
Have you considered encryption?
Unless you are very tech-savvy, the likelihood is you haven’t. Luckily, there are some very forward-thinking people and companies out there trying to make encryption the norm. The following apps are all downloadable free of charge.
- Signal – is an encrypted instant messaging and voice calling application for Android and iOS. It uses the Internet to send one-to-one and group messages, which can include images and video messages, and make one-to-one voice calls.
- ChatSecure – The app uses open-source, publicly auditable encryption libraries to keep your private business messages private. It’s really flexible, letting you choose between connecting via your existing Google account, or creating a new account on a public XMPP server. Users who want even stronger security can connect to ChatSecure from their own private server. And unlike with many rival apps, ChatSecure doesn’t require your phone number of any other personal data to get started.
- Gliph is a secure messaging service that you can use on all of your computing devices. When you’re on the go, use the iOS or Android app on your smartphone. When you’re at the office, use the Gliph desktop app so you can send and receive messages using a mouse and keyboard. Another key feature is “Real Delete,” which lets you permanently delete a message from both the sending and receiving device, as well as the Gliph server, whenever you choose. You can also attach a pseudonym to your main account at any time, so you can use a screen name for personal chatting and switch back to your real name for professional communications.
- Wickr is a secure messaging app that lets you set an “expiration date” for every message you send; just select a date and time for your media to expire, and it will automatically be deleted at that time. That way, you don’t have to worry about a third party inadvertently reading private communications that are left on a contact’s smartphone. Meanwhile, the app features end-to-end encryption for all messages, and it lets you remove metadata from individual messages, such as the time it was sent, as well as geo-location data. Another handy feature gives you the ability to completely clear away message files that have been manually deleted but still reside on your smartphone’s memory. Wickr also has standard messaging features, like the ability to chat with groups of up to 10 people at once.