Nothing to hide

In the echo chamber that is the startup community, the talk surrounding Edward Snowden and the┬ásurveillance┬ástate he revealed seems deafening. Deservedly so – the story bears repeating and demands continued attention to hold our government accountable and to prevent this story from becoming a byline once the next natural disaster or other major world event hits the news.

Yet the community of those concerned about the NSA’s behavior being revealed by Snowden is comparatively tiny next to the behemoth of U.S. citizens who couldn’t care less about how much the government knows about them, even if the protection given by such information gathering is marginal and unprovable. According to them, they have nothing to hide.

Why is this so? Are people uneducated? Apathetic? Complacent?

Does the concern over the government’s involvement only begin to take hold when they, or perhaps a loved one, is locked up on unstated charges for an indefinite amount of time with information gathered without a targeted warrant?

Does the mass gathering of information become relevant only when you personally are affected by it, and remain an abstract concept until that point?

Does a healthy skepticism of the government not exist so long as gas remains inexpensive, the paychecks keep coming, and American Idol’s still on every night?

We need people like Snowden, like Assange, like Ellsberg. We need people to read the news or turn on the TV, to hear about them, and to be angered by the details of what they reveal.

We need to drop the veil of complacency, because complacency breeds political indifference, and with indifference comes erosion of civil liberties.

And it’s our job, you and me and everyone who reads about the NSA’s actions and feels wronged and angry, to make sure that “nothing to hide” stops being an excuse. We need to show people the consequences of the erosion of civil liberties. We need the average Joe to be just as angry as we are.

We did it with SOPA. We can do it with the 4th.