- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A telling new report by the PEN American Center shows that many American writers are self-censoring their work out of fear of government surveillance.

The report, titled “Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor,” found that 85 percent of surveyed writers are worried about government surveillance of Americans and that 73 percent “have never been as worried about privacy rights and freedom of the press as they are today,” CBS Washington reported.

Sixteen percent of writers said they avoid writing about controversial topics, and an additional 11 percent have seriously considered doing so because of privacy concerns.

The PEN Center’s survey of more than 520 American writers asked for long-form responses to the information being revealed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden and other government whistleblowers, CBS Washington said.

“I feel that increased government surveillance has had a chilling effect on my research, most of which I do on the Internet,” one writer responded. “This includes research on issues such as the drug wars and mass incarceration, which people don’t think about as much as they think about foreign terrorism, but is just as pertinent.”

Another writer commented: “[D]uring the Nixon years, I took it for granted that the administration had an eye on me, and if it didn’t, I wasn’t doing my job. For a political cartoonist, active early on against Vietnam, one expected tax audits and phone taps. Irritating, but not intimidating. In fact, just the opposite: I was inspired. I view the current situation as far more serious, and the culpability and defensiveness of the president and his people deeply and cynically disturbing.”

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