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Government surveillance violates not only the human right to privacy, but threatens the enjoyment many other human rights.  PEN International has launched a campaign of awareness.  Civil society in all countries should demand of their democratically elected leaders to rigorously observe and uphold articles 17 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  See below the letter of PEN International.


11 February 2014

Today we fight back. In the last year, the world has learned that mass surveillance by governments knows no bounds.

Today, February 11th, PEN International stands with internet users around the world against mass surveillance. Today, individuals, civil society organizations, and thousands of websites will let the world’s governments know that we reject global mass surveillance at home and overseas. Today, we fight back.

“For two centuries citizens, societies, civilizations have struggled to establish binding declarations of rights, bills of rights, and charters of rights,” said John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International. “In a single decade governments around the world have now broken these rules – broken the law – through the unbridled use of new technology.  Privacy plays a central role in free expression. In private we prepare ourselves for public comment. Governments have now penetrated the lives of citizens, while obscuring the work of governments. This is a great reversal of the principles of citizens’ rights. It is a great danger to all of us.” 

John Ralston Saul, President of PEN International

Today and throughout February, PEN International is asking PEN Centres and PEN members around the globe to sign onto (https://necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action/EFA) the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance (https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/text) – also referred to as the Necessary and Proportionate Principles. These 13 Principles reflect PEN International’s Declaration Digital Freedom (http://www.pen-international.org/pen-declaration-on-digital-freedom/ ) and apply the long established rules of human rights and free expression to the digital world and therefore to digital surveillance.

Click here (https://en.necessaryandproportionate.org/take-action/) to sign if you have not already. Tell world leaders that privacy is a human right and should be protected regardless of frontiers.

When you have signed on please Tweet! Post on Facebook and Google Plus! We want to make as big of a splash as possible. The more people are signing the Principles, the more people are telling world leaders to put a stop to mass spying at home and overseas.

If you require more information about this campaign, or any of PEN International’s work on surveillance and digital freedom, please contact Sarah Clarke, International Policy and Advocacy Officer, at sarah.clarke@pen-international.org.