I thought it was kind of a no brainer, but this article really outlines some great arguments.
For me it's simple, if privacy was not a key factor for free speech, why is voting in elections anonymous?
History and any news covering elections in countries developing democracy make it quite clear that anonymity is essential to know the true feelings of the people.
A key part of free speech is anonymous speech. Anonymous speech is a constitutionally protected First Amendment right, and as the Supreme Court stated in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, “an honorable tradition of advocacy and of dissent.” Online advertising constantly fights against anonymity and pseudonymity, trying to learn everything about web users to unmask them and peel away layers of demographic info, interests, and behaviors. Many social networks like Facebook have real name policies, insisting that members use their full, legal names on their accounts or be banned.
Frankel says that “With higher ad revenues comes more rich content that spurs vibrant discussion.” I disagree. You know what spurs vibrant discussion? People, especially people behind pseudonyms. Ever been on a message board? A Reddit thread? The most “vibrant” discussions happen when people feel sufficiently protected to be honest. Sure, some people hide behind pseudonyms to harass others, but the core of the First Amendment avoids censoring the positive, protected uses of speech just because certain bad actors may abuse it.
To say that advertising is the only thing driving creative content doesn’t give credit to humanity’s ingrained creativity. First, plenty of content providers get paid for their work directly, from recording artists to bestselling authors to journalists. 43% of Americans pay content creators—authors of magazine articles and books—for e-books, and there are 400,000 paid subscribers to the Wall Street Journal alone. The majority of people blogging and posting on social media today create content out of a desire to express themselves that’s unrelated to money. Just talk to any one of the thousands of bloggers and podcasters, particularly the anonymous ones, who pay to host their own websites just to get their message out to the public. Most of these people don’t blog or podcast for a living; they do it because they love it and because their message is important to them. There’s power—and satisfaction—in speaking one’s mind, and it exists independently from ad money.
Privacy isn’t a hindrance to free speech; it’s the driving force behind it. Privacy provides both the boundaries of and protection for the space in which we can be ourselves. Privacy nurtures self-expression, creativity, speaking your mind, associating with whomever you wish, and exploring your interests. These are the First Amendment’s protections: freedom of speech, of association, and of assembly. They’re so important for self-actualization and self-determination that our founders immortalized them in the Bill of Rights. Privacy isn’t about having something to hide; it’s about having something to live for.