The subject of this post is one of my least favourite phrases in the English language. It’s just plain wrong. For a full list of why it’s wrong, see Rick Falvinge’s excellent post here. The bottom line is that the statement isn’t true by a longshot, as there are plenty of reasons why you might want to “hide” even if you have nothing to fear. This is an excellent example of how those who would be the watchers use language to subvert a legitimate expectation of privacy.
The corollary to that is the people trust the government(s) to watch within a reasonable standard. “Well, we can let them watch because they won’t overstep their bounds.” We’ve seen that this maxim does not hold true, and governments seem to be going out of their way to prove just the opposite. Even assuming we don’t discuss DMCA, PATRIOT, FISA, or even SOPA or ACTA, there’s still plenty going on. The US government agency NSA is building the world’s largest spy center. The FBI is launching a $1B face recognition program to be tied to its existing databases, “which will also add biometrics such as iris scans, DNA analysis and voice identification to the toolkit“. Lastly, it seems that in the UK, a place long known for their massive surveillance of the British population, has schools which are spying on school children in changing rooms and/or bathrooms.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Who watches the watchers?)