The “I Have Nothing to Hide” Fallacy

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In December of 2009 Eric Schmidt, at the time CEO of Google, uttered a sentence that has, in its various forms, been repeated many times in history:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Now we are all human and such a sentence may sound sensible, heck, even logical at first. So why is this considered one of the most serious blunders on the part of a representative of a company that has often stated it values privacy?

Moreover, what is the importance of safeguarding your data?

A protester holds a sign saying "Entrepreneurs against surveillance" at the yearly 'Freiheit statt Angst' [Freedom instead of Surveillance] demonstration in Berlin, August 2014 (Source: Markus Winkler [CC]).

A protester holds a sign saying “Entrepreneurs against surveillance” at the yearly ‘Freiheit statt Angst’ [Freedom instead of Surveillance] demonstration in Berlin, August 2014 (Source: Markus Winkler [CC]).

Security researcher Jacob Appelbaum, when confronted with this argument, famously demanded that the person hand him their phone unlocked and pull down their pants. There are obviously far more (albeit less colorful) answers, but it serves to illustrate one of the main points why privacy is important: it is the individual holder that decides which aspects of his life, or business he would like to keep from the public eye. And this does not mean only state sponsored surveillance, the source of most of the current brouhaha in the privacy debate.
In the Internet Age, the age of redundant data, countless web users have been victims of identity theft, public ridicule, or harassment (through “doxxing”).

How would you feel if your family photos were uploaded to some online message board? There have been many attempts at curbing the distribution of personal files, but they have all, without exception, failed spectacularly. There are some fantastic technologies which enable us to share data faster – as a consequence, a document is copied instantly, and remains available to almost everyone, if not as a whole file, then sitting on someone’s hard drive, or in multiple chunks on a peer-to-peer network.

Much in the same way that you cannot really control distribution of data, you cannot control the consumption either. The Web has produced some seriously capable, talented (re)searchers. However, while these people can quickly find and organize data, and are in essence actually trying to do good, they are often not law experts. It is wrong to distribute private files, doubly so if there is no evidence that the target has done something bad. Again, we are all human. Internet Mobs mostly gather for a good, noble cause, but when the pitchforks are raised there is no stopping them, even if they are targeting the wrong person. And while the mob quickly forgets, there can be serious consequences for the target. Where the person lives, private recordings, pictures, financial data, articles, related google searches (the latter actually being a particularly nasty method); the list goes on and on. We could discuss the individual people that were victims of such misdirected justice, but then this would become a book instead of a blog post.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence was among the victims of an iCloud breach that resulted in the publishing of numerous private photos of celebrities

Actress Jennifer Lawrence was among the victims of a massive iCloud breach in 2014 that resulted in the publishing of numerous private photos of celebrities


The main takeaway from this article for you is a truth many times said by smart netizens in some dusty comment threads (we’re obviously paraphrasing): “If you don’t want your stuff on the Internet, you probably shouldn’t upload it”. It’s as simple as that.

The safest way to do that is to keep your data on an encrypted drive. You may have heard of certain pieces of software such as TrueCrypt that work on normal hard drives, but you might want to consider hardware encryption. A hardware encrypted disk drive is an extremely easy, arguably more secure, and definitely more portable solution to keep your data safe. Having your own mobile datavault, which you can plug into any device you trust, quickly transfer your data (we recommend Solid State Drives, but there is also a normal hard drive solution if you are ready to give up on some speed for more capacity) and be on your way will save you time, and money.

We at Krypterix believe that everyone should keep their data secure within personal backup solutions. It is important that we spend both our personal and professional lives without worrying about what is happening to our data, and that we remain the ones who decide whether to make it public.