I've yet to find a comprehensive and compelling list of reasons for why people should care about their privacy, why bother defending it from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Facebook and the like. I just had a conversation with someone and as someone who cares about my privacy to the point where I'm avoiding Windows 10 and preparing to dump Windows operating systems completely because of privacy concerns. I found it pretty hard to define "why I care so much" and "why I would go to such lengths".

And when he said he thought going to these levels to defend ones privacy in his eyes is nothing but extremism. And I couldn't help but wonder if he might be right, is it just extremism to want to protect your privacy and defend your data from as many prying eyes as possible, including Microsoft despite the costs it might have on ones available applications and end user experiences? What if I just got caught up in a wave of some extremists that highly overrate their privacy and fell into their group mentality? I'm not really sure anymore, I have a few reasons of my own, but they are mostly "what ifs" and "maybes" and basically some paranoid shit that may but is very unlikely to happen at some point in the future~ish. (Like say a draconian government takes over my country and starts picking out people who are opposed to them or opposed to any of their ideals based on their computer data at some point in the future, better be safe... This is pretty much one of the most compelling reasons I can think of myself.)

So, again to the real question here, does anyone happen to have a comprehensive and compelling list of reasons (or better yet, examples of past events where normal people who didn't safeguard their digital privacy got bit for it) why one should defend their privacy to their death, even if they're just normal people thinking they got "nothing to hide"?

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    There is no comprehensive list and the answer depends on opinion, environment, education, culture... so I propose a close of this question . Apart from that there are enough examples out there where leaked private information caused serious problems, for example the Ashley Madison hack. Apr 25, 2016 at 9:06
  • @SteffenUllrich well exactly because of the absence of such a list I am asking for it. Trying to convince other people (or even myself) takes more than one odd case. For example, has Microsoft ever leaked data or been suspected for leaking data that lead to some casual person (or people's) arrests or some such?
    – Cestarian
    Apr 25, 2016 at 9:08
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    There is no compelling list of reasons because what you accept as reasons depends on environment, education, culture, age ... . Even the meaning of privacy depends on all these factors and therefore also what a privacy leak is. And because different people have a different idea what privacy is you also cannot find a comprehensive list of problems caused by privacy leaks. Apr 25, 2016 at 9:19
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    List question, and almost entirely opinion based, bordering on non-security (it's more of a sociology / political question). Voting to close.
    – Polynomial
    Apr 25, 2016 at 9:24
  • @Polynomial Honestly would close at this point because of negative attention, but can't close my own question only delete. I don't like deleting question that has answers, but oh well. (Nvm guess I can't do that either.)
    – Cestarian
    Apr 25, 2016 at 9:32

2 Answers 2


First: privacy and the level of privacy someone wants to achieve is a very individual thing.

Second: That said, it is difficult to explain to some people why they should care much, but what I found worked for me is following analogy: You lock the door to your appartment - totally independend of weither you have valuables in there or not. You also never would give away the password to your e-mail account even though there may be nothing relevant (bank records, health documents) in there. I always ask this people if there are some secret mails in their account (mostly they answer is no) and why they won't let me read their mails if nothing sensible is in there. After thinking about that most people come to the conclusion that they want to protect their data, even it is nothing of value - simply because it shouldn't concern other people.

Third: to be honest - some (security) people may go over the top when it comes to this topic (including me sometimes) but I think that is a side effekt of knowing what is possible with todays technology. There is mostly a tradeoff between privacy and usability (use of os, remembering long passwords, implementing hash functions,...) and everybody draws the line (of acceptance) somewhere else. If somebody tells me they don't care about their facebook or google accounts, i usually just ask them how they would feel if someone takes over the account and post / mail something in their name. Then they have to decide for themselves where their acceptance line between security and usabillity is.

Fourth: it is nobodys job to convince people of something (either more or less security / precautions). BUT it is important to make informed decisions which is only possible when you have basic knowledge and information. Probably the best you could do is tell your friend what negative consequences could come of not taking privacy seriously and let everybody make the decision for himself. To be fair you should also inform about the trade off and possible negative aspects of caring about privacy like described above.

  • Very nice answer. As I said though, it was more myself that I needed to convince than him. He was quite aware, he just did not care, he bombarded me with arguments against caring about my privacy, and I had little to answer with to get to an "agree to disagree" standing I would have liked to, and started to wonder... For him it was sorta "he didn't want just anyone to access his emails, but didn't mind if microsoft, facebook or google did it"
    – Cestarian
    Apr 25, 2016 at 9:27
  • No, it is not an individual thing. Let's suppose I am outraged by people like you suggesting publicly that privacy is an individual matter. I am outraged to the point that I am willing to go after you, but since you hypothetically are living in public and gave up on your privacy I can't use it against you. Instead I'll find a person who has some degree of power over you: a boss, teacher, family, spouse, politician, a clerk, anyone who could mess with your life. (cont...)
    – techraf
    Apr 25, 2016 at 10:04
  • (...cont) Then I'll find an affair, illness (in early stage), something from their past that if made public would ruin their career, family, life. And I will blackmail them promising to withhold the delicate information as long as they make your life a miserable hell.
    – techraf
    Apr 25, 2016 at 10:05
  • true, nothing to hold against your argument (but probabillity) but as i wrote - i think people should make informed decisions. if they thought about the possibly negative outcome and accepted it there is nothing someone could do. in addition to that - ther is no way to force my boss / siblings / ... into caring about privacy. what would your way of dealing with this things be? (no sarcasm, i'm really interested)
    – sam
    Apr 25, 2016 at 10:09
  • As long as you can freely choose to give up your privacy or not this might be an individual thing. But usually you are forced to trade in a bit of privacy for something in exchange, like access to better search results, better navigation, a job, ability to travel by plane, insurance, ... . And there are lots of cases where there this trade-in is not obvious or where you don't really have a choice. And therefore privacy is not really a personal thing only because your environment, society, culture... declares what should be kept really private, what is acceptable to give-up and what is public. Apr 25, 2016 at 10:19

It deppends, of course but,

imagine you go shopping and, when paying, the most kind and honest employee ever made asks for your name, date of birth and some other personal info (not so harmfull at first sight). Would you answer the questions?

Long story short is: it all deppends on your principles

And, to be honest, nowadays people share 95% of their live in social networks so I guess privacy is something not really important for most of them...

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