If You’ve Got Nothing To Hide, Why Aren’t You Naked?

If You’ve Got Nothing To Hide, Why Aren’t You Naked?

One of the more tedious arguments used by people who favour compulsory Internet filtering and other forms of censorship is “People who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear from these systems”. In his LCA keynote today, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum highlighted a simple point that’s worth making when people say that: if you have nothing to hide, why are you wearing clothes and why are there curtains on your house?

The issue of compulsory Internet filtering appears to have gone onto the backburner for the current government, but that doesn’t mean it won’t reappear in the future. If that happens, it’s a simple and worthwhile point to remember when the discussion comes up.


  • “Why are you wearing clothes and why are there curtains on your house?”

    One word answer – insulation. The question is one of those trite responses people come up with that they think is so clever but is not really related to the subject. It ranks alongside “If you like Country X so much, why don’t you go and live there?” for sheer inanity.

    • Saying “if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” is one of those inane too-clever-by-half conversation starters in the first place.

      Usually used by people who have spent the last week reading up on the topic online and is just BURSTING to lecture anyone they can get a hold of for the next 2 hours.

    • It’s the middle of summer here in Sydney and people are still wearing clothes that sure as hell aren’t making them cooler. Your trite counter-response is no better than the simplistic statement and smart-arse reply that are under discussion.

  • Yes, yes.. semantics. The point is that even if it were not cold, you would still wear a fig leaf over your genitals.. is it privacy though? Or is it decency so others can’t see your bits? 🙂

  • You don’t need weak rhetoric like that, the real argument is, despite what all you ACA watching fear controlled sheep might think, the government is not ALWAYS right. Lobby’s like the ACL (Australian Christian Lobby) pressure the government to bring in laws that impose on your freedoms. For this reason everyone should HATE them, they should be ran outta town, and people should value their privacy. Because it’s only a matter of time (as long as the ACL and other lobbies like it are allowed to exist) until we are all forced to hold hands and watch 7th heaven while thanking god for our food to avoid a prison sentence.

    Due to the aforementioned influences the government in Australia is too imposing on your personal choices, that’s why you need privacy. As an adult If I’m not hurting anyone i should be able to do whatever I want. If i can’t do something that is of no negative effect (only real and tangible, I don’t give a crap if you’re offended by it – no one guaranteed you a life free from offence) to anyone else, it’s because some other adult who thinks they know what’s best for me has said i can’t. How is it that someones opinion, for which I’m in direct disagreement with, on a subject should be able to dictate what i can and can’t do in the privacy of my own home in my spare time. It’s no different from me saying i hate Two and a Half men so therefore I’m going to make it so no one is allowed to watch it any more, or that I don’t like homosexuals, because some book full of fairytales written 1500 years ago for the sole purpose of controlling people who want to have an imaginary friend (idiots) says it’s bad, so I’m going to make sodomy illegal. Oh wait that last one happened.

    That’s why you need privacy. Because you have no freedom without it.

  • If this (or any other) govt. tells me they need to censor what I watch/hear/read/say, then not only is that a breech of my personal freedom and rights, but worse, it means that they are trying to control people.
    When govt’s try to control people, that is when things get nasty and sinister and people fight back.
    It’s got nothing to do with clothes.

  • Wow. I don’t know if you’re all joking, but a number of you really don’t seem to get it?

    The idea is that having something to hide, and wanting privacy, are different things. It’s not ‘about clothes’.

    For goodness sake people, use your imaginations.

    • True that…
      I’ve got nothing to hide but I have curtains cause I value my privacy
      I could happily get around naked too if I didn’t get arrested 😀

    • I don’t think some of these clowns are joking. They actually appear to have taken this literally. Scary. Their vote is worth the same as yours. Even scarier.

    • They are pointing out what people who use that term would respond with. It’s about an easy response that will instantly get these people thinking about that statement. Personally I don’t think clothes is a good one. The “why do you have curtains” is much better bet I still think there are even better.

  • The Jews in WWII had nothing to hide although they had to register as Jews with the ruling authorities at the time. No harm done.

    Until Hitler took power.

  • So why do I have to open my bag when leaving stores – I didn’t steal anything.
    Mostly they don’t really check anyway. However the problem with internet filtering is HOW do they decide what to filter. DO we trust them? I don’t!

    • You don’t need to open your bag when leaving stores Ron. Most people comply out of courtesy but there is no law making you display your possessions. The only people who can request to search your belongings are the police and even then they need to have reasonable grounds to suspect you of a particular crime.

      These methods are simply a deterrent for the honest folk, they hardly stop stealing but I think they make an impact. This lesson could easily be applied to the Internet and digital products/content. But this involves thinking outside the box and not trying to apply 19th century policing in the 21st century.

  • Going to the loo is very legal. It’s also potentially very gross. It’s something that everyone does, yet most people go in privacy- some don’t. But the option is there if you want it.

  • “I have plenty to hide. And none of it is your damn business. And none of it is illegal, either. If you push, then you are breaching my right to privacy for no justifiable reason, and I have every right to defend my privacy in any way I choose. Governments and people misinterpret data and make mistakes all the time. I do not intend to allow myself to be an unwilling victim to the enforced actions of others who think they have authority over my sovereignty and force me to do things I choose not to do. Before you get to know anything about me, I get reason and evidence of what you intend to use the information for, and I will judge whether I want you to know or not. There is no other rational or sane way. And even if you disagree with my opinion, there is nothing illegal in me holding that opinion, and hence enacting that opinion. In other words, I justify you getting squat from me. But now you can tell me why you want to know anything “secret” about me. Considering I can prove that the American government (and by extension their allies) feels justifiable in lying to its people, and the “common citizen” lie and gossip all the time, I want proof of the truth of your statement, and evidence that you can and will restrict the information I reveal only to the purpose you claim it will be put to. Otherwise I judge your statement as null, void, simplistic, and irrational; I only waste my time to even consider defending your contention for the benefit of others who might not so easily elucidate an argument against it.”

  • Score +1 for totalitarian government!! Woo. I think where there is an opportunity and an incentive to download copyrighted material, people will. Unfortunately they only care to limit our opportunity by limiting our freedoms, instead of tackling our incentive by giving us reasonably priced content.

  • If I’m dancin’ a jig with me bits a flyin’ and singing a tune off tune then I’ll draw the curtains tight…more because I’m a bit ashamed of how I’ve treated gods holy temple, my body, for the last 50 years than for the prudes who have nothing better to do than peer into my windows!
    As to why I wear clothing…well, I rarely do…as a firm believer in nudity I wear loose fitters to and from the nudist community where I live much of the year and never otherwise. If that bothers the bunch of ye prudes then chew on the belly lint that yer clothing leaves behind and sit down with your checkbook to see how much money your wasting.
    Mostly, try to understand how much joy and freedom that perfect strangers are trying to take from you even though they’ve never tried it themselves.

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