via The Writers’ Union of Canada
International discussion of online spying unsettling to researchers and writers
Following international discussion of online spying and mass surveillance, The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) recently polled its members about the realities of spying and surveillance among Canada’s writers. A simple, five question survey revealed that while only a very small minority of Canada’s authors feel they have already felt an impact on their work from government surveillance and/or interference, most Canadian authors feel there will be an inevitable impact on writing and publishing in the not too distant future.
Only 5% of respondents declared they have been spied upon in their work as a writer, 7% declared they felt some level of harassment related to their work, while fully 60% of respondents felt mass surveillance would affect their work or the work of other writers in the future. Writers who believe they are being surveilled may feel pressure to self-censor their correspondence or the subjects they choose to write about in order not to have their work red flagged.
“PEN International has done much to address this issue for writers already,” said TWUC Chair, Dorris Heffron, “with their Declaration on Digital Freedom, and their support for the international Writers Against Mass Surveillance petition.”
As a partner organization of PEN Canada, TWUC lends its collective support to this initiative as well, encouraging individual members to sign on to the petition to express their concern. TWUC members John Ralston Saul (President of PEN International) and Margaret Atwood (Vice- President of PEN International) are lead signatories to the petition.