NSA Surveillance & US Writers

Chilling Effects

  • PUBLISHED by PEN AMERICAN CENTER on November 11, 2013

NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor

In the human rights and free expression communities, it is a widely shared assumption that the explosive growth and proliferating uses of surveillance technologies must be harmful—to intellectual freedom, to creativity, and to social discourse. But how exactly do we know, and how can we demonstrate, that pervasive surveillance is harming freedom of expression and creative freedom?

In October 2013, PEN partnered with independent researchers at the FDR Group to conduct a survey of over 520 American writers to better understand the specific ways in which awareness of far-reaching surveillance programs influences writers’ thinking, research, and writing. The results of this survey—the beginning of a broader investigation into the harms of surveillance—substantiate PEN’s concerns: writers are not only overwhelmingly worried about government surveillance, but are engaging in self-censorship as a result.

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Chilling Effects will also appear in today’s New York Times.  You can read the article online here.

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2 opinions on “NSA Surveillance & US Writers”

  1. Well, spying and snooping has existed from the beginning of time. Warfare, terrorism but mostly technology has ramped the snooping up considerably. Rank amateurs listen in and plant invasive spyware readily available in stores and on the net. Woe betide the cheater and misbehaver in today’s society. All that said, I would be greatly surprised and disappointed if any writer self edited his beliefs or feelings anywhere in the west. If they do, I rather suspect the depth of their beliefs and any threat they may pose. If you are not threatening the lives of fellow citizens why worry? If you are cheating on your spouse, you’re screwed in more ways than one!

  2. You can’t have relevant writers if there is nothing relevant to write about. It’s been a long time coming. I say hallelujah. Now writers have no excuse for not being considered dangerous. You want the glory you’re gonna have to have some guts. Or you can be the next Jeffery Eugenides or Chad Harbach. Your choice. Didn’t use to be one.

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