By Jay Stanley, Senior Policy Analyst, ACLU Speech, Privacy and Technology Project at 1:57pm
A commentator on my recent post about the DEA installing license plate scanners on the nation’s interstate highways asks, “If you aren't doing anything illegal why would you care if someone captures your license plate number?”
Another commentator countered: “If I'm not doing anything illegal, why do the police need to record my license plate number?”
It’s a great response. In essence, it points to our civilization’s core principle that the government is not supposed to look over our shoulder unless it has particularized suspicion that we are involved in wrongdoing.
But the original poster’s point is a frequent refrain: “Why should I care about surveillance if I have nothing to hide?” As a privacy advocate I have heard this question for many years, and over time developed my own list of answers, aided by the sharp thinking of others who have grappled with this question, such as Dan Solove and Bruce Schneier.
Here are the answers to this question that I have settled upon over time: