Surveillance changes the way we express ourselves and threatens to stifle free expression around the world. Join us in opposing mass surveillance.
To find out more about this campaign or see how you can take part, please contact Nik Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“What surveillance really is, at its root, is a highly effective form of social control. The knowledge of always being watched changes our behaviour & stifles dissent. The inability to associate secretly means there is no longer any possibility for free association. The inability to whisper means there is no longer any speech that is truly free of coercion, real or implied. Most profoundly, pervasive surveillance threatens to eliminate the most vital element of both democracy & social movements: the mental space for people to form dissenting & unpopular views.”
The impact of surveillance on free expression is well documented; the perception of surveillance severely undermines the ability to communicate freely. In 2013 following the Snowden revelations, PEN America commissioned a survey of their membership to understand the impact of governmental surveillance on their writing.
“1 in 6 writers have avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance”
This was confirmed by a global survey undertaken by PEN International that stated: “writers living in liberal democratic countries have begun to engage in self-censorship at levels approaching those seen in non-democratic countries.”
Surveillance undermines the ability of individuals to write, research and communicate and so represents a distinct threat to free expression. Without public debate on this vital issue, our ability to communicate and express ourselves freely will be stifled.
Scottish PEN calls for greater protections of privacy and freedom of expression inside the Snooper’s Charter.
Marjorie Lotfi Gill explores what censorship means for her when writing about friends, family, and the Iranian Revolution.
Edinburgh-based writer Alice Tarbuck wrote a found words poem from keywords that alert the US government to terrorist threats.
Wigtown Book Festival celebrates the power of the written word but Scottish PEN is deeply concerned about how unwarranted and suspicionless surveillance can undermine the ability of novelists, poets and playwrights to express themselves free from coercion or duress.
While the government made a number of concessions to strengthen privacy protections, Scottish PEN does not believe these reforms go far enough to fully protect free expression and privacy.