PEN America published a report this week summarizing the findings from a recent survey of 772 writers around the world on questions of surveillance and self-censorship. The report, entitled “Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers,” builds upon a late 2013 survey of more than 500 US-based writers conducted by the organization.
The latest survey found that writers living in liberal democratic countries “have begun to engage in self-censorship at levels approaching those seen in non-democratic countries, indicating that mass surveillance has badly shaken writers’ faith that democratic governments will respect their rights to privacy and freedom of expression, and that—because of pervasive surveillance—writers are concerned that expressing certain views even privately or researching certain topics may lead to negative consequences.”
Specifically, more than 1 in 3 writers living in “free” countries (as classified by watchdog Freedom House) stated that they had avoided speaking or writing on a particular topic since the Snowden revelations, and only seventeen percent of writers in these countries felt that the United States offers more protection for free speech than their countries. A whopping sixty percent of writers in Western Europe and fifty-seven percent in the remaining Five Eyes countries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK) think that US credibility “has been significantly damaged for the long term” by NSA spying.