What Privacy Is About

Edward Snowden says privacy isn’t about something to hide. Privacy is about something to protect. That’s who you are. That’s what you believe in, that’s who you want to become. Privacy is the right to the self. Privacy is what gives you the ability to share with the world who you are, on your own terms, for them to understand what you’re trying to be.

And to protect for yourself the parts of you that you’re not sure about, that you’re still experimenting with. If we don’t have privacy, what we’re losing is the ability to make mistakes. We’re losing the ability to be ourselves. Privacy is the fountainhead of all other rights. Freedom of speech doesn’t have a lot of meaning if you can’t have a quiet space to decide what it is that you actually wanna say.

Freedom of religion doesn’t mean that if you can’t figure out what you actually believe without being influenced by the criticisms and sort of outside direction and peer pressure of others. And it goes on and on and on. But privacy is baked into our language, our core concepts of government and self in every way without privacy, you won’t have anything for yourself. So when people say that to me, I say back arguing that you don’t have privacy because you have nothing to hide is like arguing that you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.