Writers Against Mass Surveillance

English PEN is pleased to support Writers Against Mass Surveillance, an international appeal that has already been signed by more than 500 writers from around the world

The appeal demands a binding ‘International Bill of Digital Rights’ and calls upon the United Nations to enforce fundamental democratic rights such as the presumption of innocence and the right to privacy in the digital realm.

The  appeal has now been signed by more than 500 writers from around the world. Signatories include five Nobel laureates Orhan Pamuk, J.M. Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas Tranströmer, and prominent international writers including Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Arundhati Roy, Björk, Nick Cave, and Umberto Eco.

English PEN members including Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Jeanette Winterson and Hanif Kureishi are also among the hundreds of writers to have joined the appeal, which states

A person under surveillance is no longer free; a society under surveillance is no longer a democracy. To maintain any validity, our democratic rights must apply in virtual as in real space.

Read the full text of the appeal here.

Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN said

International moral pressure is what’s needed to ensure that politicians address the mass invasion of our privacy by the intelligence services in the UK and US. The signatories to the appeal are a measure of the level of outrage and concern.

English PEN would like to invite all our members to join as further signatories. If you are interested in doing so, please send an email to George-Orwell@mail.com, including your first and last name and nationality. Members of the public are also encouraged to show their support, by adding their name to the related petition.  

Join the debate

  • Free Speech Debate: Privacy and Surveillance
  • 11 December, 6.30pm
  • Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA

In the wake of the public outcry at the Edward Snowden revelations, English PEN is bringing together a panel of experts to debate the extent to which our privacy has been compromised and what impact this has on the freedom of writers, journalists and bloggers.

Speakers include:

Nigel Inkster, director of transnational threats and political risk at the IISS. He served in the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) from 1975 to 2006, and spent seven years on the Board of SIS, the last two as assistant chief and director for operations and intelligence.

Ian Brown, Associate Director of Oxford University’s Cyber Security Centre, and Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (OII). His research is focused on information security, privacy-enhancing technologies, and Internet regulation.

Alan Judd, former soldier and diplomat, and writer of nine novels and two biographies. His first, A Breed of Heroes, won an RSL award and another, The Devil’s Own Work won the Guardian Fiction Award, and his biography of Ford Madox Ford the Heinemann Award.  His authorised biography of Mansfield Cumming, founder of MI6, was short-listed for the  Westminster Prize.

Chaired by Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN

Buy tickets HERE


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One Comment on “Writers Against Mass Surveillance”

  1. We are in a transition from analogue to the digital world. During this transition the common problematic of all sides of the world, from East to the West, from South to the North, is the concept and perception of freedom in societies.
    I believe, now it is time for those all across the world who campaign for freedom of thought, freedom of expression and free flow of information to support each other in solidarity.

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