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»Wegen der NSA-Überwachung üben US-Autoren Selbstzensur«

Studie des PEN American Centers zu den Auswirkungen der NSA-Überwachung auf US-Autoren, 12.11.2013 (engl. Originalfassung)

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? We know—historically, from writers and intellectuals in the Soviet Bloc, and contemporaneously from writers, thinkers, and artists in China, Iran, and elsewhere—that aggressive surveillance regimes limit discourse and distort the flow of information and ideas. But what about the new democratic surveillance states?

The question of the harms caused by widespread surveillance in democracies, like the surveillance being conducted by the U.S. National Security Agency, is underexplored. 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. See appendix for complete survey results.

The initial survey results show that writers are significantly more likely than the general public to disapprove of “the government’s collection of telephone and Internet data as part of anti-terrorism efforts”— 66% of writers vs. 44% of the general public. Only 12% of writers approve, compared with 50% of the general public.

Freedom of expression is under threat and, as a result, freedom of information is imperiled as well. Fully 85% of writers responding to PEN’s survey are worried about government surveillance of Americans, and 73% of writers have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today. PEN has long argued that surveillance poses risks to creativity and free expression. 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.

PEN’s survey allowed participants to offer long-form comments on surveillance; PEN also invited members to share their thoughts and personal experiences via email. In reviewing the responses, themes emerged centering on writers’ self-censorship and fear that their communications would bring harm to themselves, their friends, or sources:

1. PEN writers now assume that their communications are monitored.

2. The assumption that they are under surveillance is harming freedom of expression by prompting writers to self-censor their work in multiple ways, including:

a) reluctance to write or speak about certain subjects;

b) reluctance to pursue research about certain subjects; and

c) reluctance to communicate with sources, or with friends abroad, for fear that they will endanger their counterparts by doing so.

This Report outlines the responses PEN has received from writers, organized under the themes listed above. Wherever possible, this Report allows writers to speak for themselves; each section includes a selection of quotes from the writers who responded to PEN’s calls for comment on surveillance and its impact. The Report concludes with a brief list of preliminary recommendations for reform of U.S. surveillance practices.

 

 

Sie finden die vollständige Studie hier.

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