At the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf writes about a man who supposedly has nothing to hide:
When someone debating privacy says, “but I don’t have anything to hide,” I am immediately suspicious. “Would you prove it by giving me access to your email accounts,” I’ve taken to replying, “along with your credit card statements and bank records?” Not a single person has ever taken me up on that challenge–until now.
Arizona resident Noah Dyer emailed me about an anti-privacy project he is promoting. I replied in my usual way. And to my surprise, he sent all his passwords.
“I have given you the things you’ve asked for, and have done so unconditionally,” he wrote. “I’ve given you the power to impersonate me. I request that you do not take advantage of me in this way, though I have obviously not made that desire a precondition to sharing the info with you. Additionally, while you may paint whatever picture of me you are inclined to based on the data and our conversations, I would ask you to exercise restraint in embarrassing others whose lives have crossed my path … Again, I have not made your agreement to that request a condition of sharing the data. I don’t think I have enough money that you would bother to take it or spend it. Look forward to talking more and seeing the article!”
“Wow,” I thought. “How reckless to give this access to a complete stranger!” Then I logged in to his email.
It’s an interesting piece with an interesting premise. Dyer turns out to be a self-promoting narcissist who got a divorce because he decided it was important to be able to sleep around — including, apparently, with several married women. He gave Friedersdorf complete access to all his passwords, which means he unilaterally decided that there would be no privacy, not just for him, but for anyone else who had ever entrusted him with anything private.
Although Friedersdorf repeatedly claims that Dyer has “nothing to hide,” he clearly does — because, for some reason, he doesn’t seem to want to give his bank and email passwords to the world . . . just to Friedersdorf. Dyer is active in comments to the article and I have asked him to post his passwords publicly. So far he has not, and I don’t expect that he will. (Nor should he.)
As best as I can tell, Dyer defends this by explaining that in his utopia, nobody would have any privacy, so if you stole something, everyone would know. In our imperfect world, however, he has to behave differently. Of course, in my utopia, self-promoting narcissists would not exist, so there would be no Noah Dyer to begin with. (Utopia, I’ll remind the reader, means “nowhere.”)
Dyer is trying to fund some Kickstarter campaign:
[I]f his ambitious Kickstarter, “A Year Without Privacy,” is funded, “I will walk my talk. You will see every minute of my life for a year. You will see every email, every text, every Facebook message and any other communication that I receive. You will see my bank account transaction and balances. You will see everything I eat and all the exercise I do … If I do have sex, it will be documented as a matter of fact, not with any specific intention to arouse or otherwise manipulate the viewer.”
Ladies, the line to have sex with this guy on camera for the whole world to see starts right over there!
I doubt he will be giving out his passwords to the entire world, though. Because the guy with nothing to hide, as it turns out, still does have plenty to hide — at least in the real world.