What if I walked up to you and picked up your smart phone and gingerly just scrolled through your text messages with your wife, husband, girl friend, brother, sister etc.. What if I eavesdropped on all your most private and intimate conversations? What if I violated your sacred privacy and listed to what you spoke to your attorney about? Or what if I recorded your confessions at church? And after all of that, I let a few thousand of my pals review it and use your most personal moments against you and paint you in the light of a criminal? What if I took that little call from the Dr. saying you have an STD and shared it with people you knew? It is crazy to think that if you are not "hiding anything you shouldn't fear anything." Privacy is not only to conceal crime, its far more than that. Would you truly be comfortable knowing that someone was watching you in some way all of the time? If yes shame on you, you are no better than a lemming that runs off a cliff to its death....
If everything you do could be publicized, then what can anyone use against you? If you never have sex/don't care about people seeing you have sex, then what's the use of blackmailing you with sex tapes? If you don't care if something isn't private, than by definition it's quite meaningless to have anything to fear from someone knowing it.
While I don't believe I have anything to hide, it is not me that I am worried about. Dissident will be nearly impossible if journalists cannot protect their sources, so speaking out against the gov't will become harder and harder to do.
There are cases that prove this is already to be the case, and our democracy is at stake because of this.
I used to think that way about a great many things, until an aggressive law enforcement investigation accused me of a crime of which I was innocent. I was pursued by law enforcement purely on circumstantial evidence, and it changed the way I view the world. The bottom line is that those doing the surveying may get it wrong, and there is guarantee that everyone in the law enforcement and/or intelligence community has pure motives. I'm not saying that we all have something to fear, but I think the onus should be on the intelligence gatherers to show that they are using their tools properly, not on the public to show that they are not.
While I don't agree with those who argue that secrecy is an inalienable right, in practice it is almost impossible to prevent people from keeping secret information if they really want to. Information about a loved one's whereabouts for instance can be used by criminals as leverage against us. For those of you who argue that agents of the government are not criminals, this is might be true, until they commit a crime. There is no reasonable screening process that will guarantee that someone will use personal information responsibly. However, if you are really that paranoid about keeping your information secret, stop using public communication to transmit sensitive information. These were never intended to be secure. There are a whole range of techniques available which can be used to transmit information in a more secure manner even over public networks, go learn some.
It's true that if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, but the fact of the matter is privacy rights. In the US Constitution basic privacy rights are given and shouldn't be infringed. If you want a better picture of this read the book "1984" it will show you were this leads to real quick.
Many aspects of life are private. - I don't want nude pictures of myself or my wife on the net.
Many aspects of business are best kept personal. If I bid on a contract I do not want my competitors knowing my bid.
Even in the world of leisure, I don't want you to know the cards I hold in my hand.
Privacy is important.