Privacy was once the norm. When people discovered Governments wire-tapping phones, there was outrage. These days, not only do Governments encroach on our civil rights in the name of “national security”, but trans-national corporation such as Microsoft and Google track us incessantly and harvest our data.

And we let them. In the name of convenience we hand over our location, communications, digital habits, personal interests, and our identity. Not only is this a little creepy… it’s dangerous.

Authorities claim that if we’re not doing anything “wrong” then we have nothing to hide, but this isn’t true. “Wrong” is a relative term. What’s legally wrong and what’s ethically wrong are two separate concepts. Don’t believe me? Just imagine an SS Officer entering a 1938 Polish person’s home while stating “If you’re not doing anything wrong then you have nothing to hide”.

“One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” 

Martin Luther King Jr.

The role of the authorites are to react to citizen’s calls for protection and to enforce justice, not to proactively invade the lives of citizens where they have not been welcomed. We have the same need today as we have ever had to protect ourselves from such over-steps.

But you’re not doing anything wrong, ethically or legally, right? Well, I believe it is the duty of all citizens to protect their rights, and the rights of their fellow citizens, including their right to privacy. The best way to protect our rights isn’t by talking about our rights and then disregarding them. The best way to protect our rights is by exercising those rights.

See, if the only people exercising their right to privacy (utilising encrypted communications, private browsers, VPN’s, etc) are those are disobeying unjust laws, then they will stand out to authorities like a sore thumb. If everyone is using Facebook Messenger but the Federal Police can see a small group of people using Signal, this may raise a red flag. But if we’re all using Signal, then privacy is operating as it should.

If we wish to ensure our democratic societies remain free, and that activists from across the political spectrum(s) are able to operate, then we must all do our part in ensuring that privacy is the norm.

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