A very good and thorough essay on Privacy:http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Privacy-Matters-Even-if/127461/
Addressing amongst other things the "if you got nothing to hide" retort, but also the right to know what
is being stored about you.
The latter is kind of interesting in my case, because in Dutch society surveillance is rampant (our country of 17M has more phone-taps in absolute numbers
than the USA). Basically it's only bearable because our government hasn't turned completely evil ... yet (and if I were Muslim, I might think differently perhaps), but there are lots of laws and regulations that allow one to request what sort of data is stored about you.
This sort of balances the scales a little bit. Especially because you can also request your data to be removed in certain (non-government) circumstances, and there's several types of centralized opt-out lists (for telemarketing etc) that actually work, have real consequences for companies not following them, and are quite effortless to sign up to (less than a minute online).
Hence my bemused surprise that Virgin wouldn't simply stop mailing me right away at my email request. A European corp could have potentially gotten in trouble for not immediately complying.
Of course it just balances the scales a tiny bit. And it hinges on the gov not being actively evil about it (seems their attention is elsewhere right now).
I especially worry, and that's one thing the article doesn't touch upon, the amount of data recorded about me not by the government, but by corporations. Now that's also very regulated in the Netherlands, but there's not quite enough checks to see if they follow the rules.
And then there's US or international corporations, collecting data about me, and the US gov can just subpoena them, and really they should have no business with my data at all. Like how they requested the Twitter data from that Icelandic politician, and the Dutch Wikileaks guy. And we only heard about that because Twitter decided to make a fuss about it. So in reality I must assume they're getting info from Twitter, Google and Facebook all the fucking time.