Privacy issues are political dividers. Either you take the classical liberal stand – that citizens are individuals, who should be judged by their actions, or you choose a socialist or conservative stand – where citizens are to be seen and treated as a collective.
Almost no one denies the need for surveillance when it comes to people who are suspected of serious crimes (or obvious preparation of such crimes).
The issue is if you want surveillance of all citizens, all the time. Just in case.
The public Big Brother discourse seems to focus on things like terrorism, drug cartels, human trafficking, sexual abuse of children, public order, and similar alarming issues.
But the justification for surveillance has nothing to do with the approach to it as such. Everything can be excused. Practically everything.
We cannot draw the line on a case-by-case basis, as the boundaries of what our elected representatives deems to be acceptable or not keeps changing depending on time, zeitgeist and place. There are no guarantees that the ruling classes will use surveillance for reasonable purposes only, at all times.
We must draw a line that stands on principle.
Surveillance should only be used if there is a tangible suspicion of a crime being committed, or about to be committed.
When this principle is established – but no earlier – you can take on the day-to-day discussion about what should be legal and illegal. That is a neverending and ever-changing process.
We must accept and respect the right to privacy as a fundamental human right.
Today’s day-by-day and case-by-case approach will, with absolute certainty, lead to the right to privacy being hollowed out altogether. You need only give politics a glance to understand that.
A society without the right to privacy will be a highly unpleasant, hostile and dangerous society. Especially for the innocent.
We, the people, must demand our right to privacy back. Because no one else will do it for us.