Throughout the novel “Little Brother”, the author Cory Doctorow touches on quite a number of intriguing themes and ideas. In Chapter 4, the protagonist is asked to unlock his phone, but he refuses to do so, not because he is hiding something illegal or potentially incriminating, but simply because he thinks that some things (like his phone’s private data) should be seen by him only - no one else. “The truth is that I had everything to hide, and nothing.”, he aptly says.
I found this to be a really interesting idea in the book because it dealt with the question of why one desires privacy in the first place. If there isn’t anything essentially ‘wrong’ about the things we keep private, be it family photos or personal messages conversations, then why do we shudder at the idea of someone else having access to them. This is essentially the dilemma the protagonist faces when he is asked to unlock his phone. He hadn’t done anything illegal, but letting the people from Homeland Security invade the bastion of his private life (i.e. his mobile device) just didn’t feel right. The author then writes about an analogy comparing informational privacy to nudity – there’s nothing deviant with the idea of being nude, everyone does it, but being naked in front on an audience would certainly be considered rather ‘weird’ and awry - no matter how fundamentally normal it is. Some information, regardless of how innocuous it may be, is to be known only by the person that it belongs to. Perhaps, this conclusion is perfectly articulated with the quote, “There's something really liberating about having some corner of your life that's yours, that no one gets to see except you.”