Privacy is a human need, which is why the battle over its control is so intense. Constant surveillance makes it difficult or impossible for individuals to forge intimate family and romantic bonds, to create, to vote their conscience, to sexually explore, to discover who they are politically and religiously, to experiment with drugs, or to dissent without danger. Personal privacy is also the greatest barrier to government power, which rests on government knowledge.
"Only criminals need to fear government surveillance" is a common response to the defense of privacy. But every peaceful person is a criminal with something to hide. Why? They have exceeded the speed limit, taken an illegal drug, smuggled cheap booze or cigarettes across a border, made "unauthorized" additions to a house, fibbed to a customs official, understated their income on a tax form, or violated one of the tens of thousands of other laws that criminalize harmless behavior. Government makes criminals of us all. As Ayn Rand explained, "The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws." Thus, all individuals are under control.