PEN America survey: Mass surveillance causing self-censorship among writers
11 Nov 2013


Sixty-six percent of American writers disapprove of their government’s collection of phone and internet data, according to a survey from the PEN American Center.

The survey of 540 US writers found that a majority assume that their communications are monitored. PEN says that this assumption has prompted some to self-censor when writing or researching certain subjects or communicating with sources, or friends, abriad.

“I assume everything I do electronically is subject to monitoring,” one writer said in responding to the survey.

The report states:

This assumption is striking: in a short span of time, the United States has shifted from a society in which the right to privacy in personal communications was considered inviolate to a society in which many writers assume they have already lost the right to privacy and now expect to be spied upon almost constantly.”

Survey respondents were concerned about the US framework for surveillance would become “business as usual” for the rest of the world.

Writers reported self-censoring on subjects including military affairs, the Middle East North Africa region, mass incarceration, drug policies, pornography, the Occupy movement, the study of certain languages and criticism of the US government.”

Read the full report here

One response to “PEN America survey: Mass surveillance causing self-censorship among writers”

  1. John Adams says:

    85% of writers in America should be less concerned. I’m sorry you are a speck in your Government’s eye and that your ego is hurt by not being as important as you believe yourselves to be, but seriously get over it. Show me the prosecutions? Show me the jail time? Show me the incarcerations? You know you can’t. Which do you believe will cause more problems for you: a) Writing an article critical of the Obama Administration or b) Writing an article critical of the Chinese Government? If you believe (A), I submit to you an entire news network (FOX News) that clearly should be jailed (Ok, this is just my personal opinion) but has somehow survived, nay thrived I say, in this editorial dark age! How is this possible? Rush Limbaugh jailed? Nope!

    So why the fear? Ah you are writing for a terrorist publication! No? You are writing about sedition against the government (a no-no still to this day)! Not that either? Um, you don;t like Lady Gaga? (possibly something to fear, but only for your lackluster career). This is the Elite Class who had mommy and daddy tell them how special they were. That had schoolmates that could not be valedictorian material. That were stoked by their college newspaper to take print to the masses because they were/are the keepers of the sacred flame of American English!

    Again you may be “special”, or special to your loved ones and friends, but you are NOTHING to your government as long as you are not breaking the laws that govern all of us. And I know what will be said, how will I know if I am breaking a “secret law”? The good news is you won;t, so don;t worry and be happy writing to your heart’s content!

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