05 May 2009

We all have something to hide.

I have thought long and hard about the mantra 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear'. This is sometimes used by proponents of ID/CCTV/DNA databases etc. It is not something i have ever felt the need to use.

Opponents of databases etc always sneer that the simplicity of this statement shows the simplicity of the proponent's argument and sometimes of the proponent. But this statement is not useless because it is wrong, it is because we ALL DO have something to fear.

It all stems from our deep seated fear of a 'snitch', 'grass', 'do gooder' etc. Even people who argue - both right and left - about the utmost importance of law and order are suspicious of people who 'shop' criminals, even if they recognise it is the correct thing to do.

Opponents prey on this anti-authority streak to advance their cause. Sometimes they are right, but sometimes they throw the baby out with the bathwater - think of Greens and nuclear power and unions who resist new technology and more efficiency. In the end they just hurt their own cause.

I am convinced that NO2ID and opponents of DNA databases ultimately will realise they have unwittingly damaged the cause of liberty and freedom. Deleting innocent people off the DNA database is a backward step when for fairness and accuracy we need to dna everybody. Only then will our justice system be able to become less punitive rather than an unfair hit and miss so called deterrent system.

*update* Jonathan Myerson writes in the Guardian on this very subject.


  1. Trooper Thompson6/5/09 12:10 am

    "...So whenever I get into an argument like this, and somebody looks at me and says “what do you have to hide?” And I say: “Everything. I have my dignity to hide, I have my personality to hide I have my privacy to hide. You want me to entrust those things to the government? lets see, the government can't deliver the mail, it can't fill potholes, it doesn't know who's paid taxes and who hasn't, it can't secure the borders, why would you trust a government, who can't do the basic things we hire it for, with personal, private information about you?” Ultimately, after the right to live, the greatest of rights is the right to be left alone."

    Judge Andrew Napolitano

  2. TT: Read the J. Myerson article I now link to at the end. DNA is fairly useless info, we give out far more in virtually every transaction we make. Yet the benefits of a universal database (not to mention the fairness of it) would be immense in deterring and help quickly catch serial rapists etc.

  3. "DNA is fairly useless info"

    It is if you expand the database to the extent you're envisioning, more and more false positives creep in.

    "we ALL DO have something to fear"

    Got to agree with you there, I suspect we fear different things though. Given that there are now so many offences it is almost impossible not to commit some sort of offence unless you hide under a blanket all day, I do not look forward to ridgid enforcement of the law.

    "I am convinced that NO2ID and opponents of DNA databases ultimately will realise they have unwittingly damaged the cause of liberty and freedom."

    While I respect much of your writing, I have long since given up hope that you will ever understand liberty or freedom. Like so many things you claim increase Liberty, the above diminishes it.

  4. I don't fear grasses snitches or do-gooders - I've been one myself. The difference is I've "grassed" people (and would again) who were actually breaking the law.

    You want to assume we are all criminals and act accordingly.

    As I have also pointed out to you before, DNA isn't foolproof and at the level it's currently matched, just like the stupid fingerprints on ID cards idea, will provide so many false results as to be useless. Only a total cretin could believe otherwise.

  5. Trooper Thompson7/5/09 12:35 am

    I skimmed the article by that fellow, his argument being: we've given up almost all our privacy, why not some more.

    Firstly the state cannot be trusted with our personal information (e.g. losing the records of every child in the nation).

    Secondly I don't want to live in a panopticon, watched over by totalifabian social engineers. If you want to reduce crime, let people shoot burglars.