January 6, 2015
There is a new report by PEN American Center demonstrating the damaging impact of surveillance by the United States and other governments on free expression and creative freedom around the world.
The report’s revelations, based on a survey of nearly 800 writers worldwide, are alarming. Concern about surveillance is now nearly as high among writers living in democracies (75%) as among those living in non-democracies (80%).
The levels of self-censorship reported by writers living in democratic countries are approaching the levels reported by writers living in authoritarian or semi-democratic countries. And writers around the world think that mass surveillance has significantly damaged U.S. credibility as a global champion of free expression for the long term.
It also pointed out that the US has to respect the privacy and rights to free expression of foreign citizens either in or out of the US.
“As the United Nations has repeatedly stated, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the US is a party, requires it to respect the human rights to privacy and free expression of all individuals affected by its surveillance programs,” the report says.
What about ?
A similar report published in November 2013 found that writers were “worried about mass surveillance, and were engaged in multiple forms of self-censorship as a result.”
A full report from writers around the world will be issued in the spring of 2015. As writers are considered to be the “canaries in the coalmine” therefore they are likely to give an accurate picture of the impact of surveillance on privacy and freedom of expression.