562 Top Writers: Time for 'Bill of Digital Rights'

Authors from 81 countries cite surveillance concerns

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 10, 2013 6:32 AM CST

(Newser) – Yesterday, these guys came together to call on the world to limit spying; today, the globe's leading writers are taking up the mantle. Some 562 authors, from Margaret Atwood to Don DeLillo to Ian McEwan, are following tech firms' anti-surveillance push with one of their own: They're calling on the UN to create a global bill of digital rights, the Guardian reports. Current snooping, as revealed by Edward Snowden, makes everyone a suspect, say the authors, who hail from 81 countries and also include Kazuo Ishiguro, Jeffrey Eugenides, Dave Eggers, and Tom Stoppard.

Their petition, which doesn't specifically mention the NSA or Britain's GCHQ, says humans have the "fundamental" right to "remain unobserved and unmolested." It notes that "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." The authors urge the creation of a digital rights convention that governments would "sign and adhere to." Notes Juli Zeh, a writer behind the effort: "We all have to stand up now, and we as writers do what we can do best: Use the written word to intervene publicly." In agreement? You can sign their petition here.

British playwright Tom Stoppard is among the authors calling for a 'digital bill of rights.'   (AP Photo/Sang Tan, File)
Canadian writer Margaret Atwood arrives for the 2008 Prince of Asturias award ceremony in Oviedo, northern Spain, Friday, Oct. 24, 2008. Atwood won the prize for Letters.   (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
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