Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Feel Like You're Being Watched?

By April Moore
This is my dog. He's got his eye on me, hoping I don't get so absorbed in my work that I forget to take him for his daily walk.

Do you ever get the feeling you're being watched?

According to a January 2015 study, of the 800 writers surveyed, over half of them fear government surveillance--to the point that they've scaled back their social media presence and have even limited their writing subjects. Many of the study's participants cite the case of Edward Snowden which threw the spotlight on domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA), for their unease.

I'll admit, I felt a little wary as I conducted a few searches for this post; Googling anything about government surveillance likely added me to at least one watch list. Although, I could be on a few since I recently began researching information for a new novel--a mystery this time--where I needed to find realistic ways to make a death look like an accident.

If black SUVs pulled into my cul-de-sac, I really wouldn't be too worried--the worse they'll find on my computer are the remains of lifeless stories and novel-starts that never stood a chance. I'd be more concerned they'd reveal my secret Pinterest boards.

Being investigated because of search terms on your own computer is one thing, but what about journalists and other nonfiction authors? This is a real concern for them--and for good reason because when you have government surveillance, there's a good chance (that among other things) it will lead to censorship.

The study noted that many writers, out of fear, will self-censor."Writers are reluctant to speak about, write about, or conduct research on topics that they think may draw government scrutiny. This has a devastating impact on freedom of information as well: If writers avoid exploring topics for fear of possible retribution, the material available to readers---particularly those seeking to understand the most controversial and challenging issues facing the world today---may be greatly impoverished." 

It used to be that government surveillance only pertained to the Fourth Amendment of "unreasonable search and seizure." Now, it's impacting our freedom of speech. And I thought being dog-watched was unnerving . . .

As a writer, are you concerned with government surveillance? 

4 comments:

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've been paranoid for more years than the Internet has existed, and for good reason. I could tell you a couple of stories...

Do I self-censor? Yes, I do. That's why I just deleted the rest of the comment I'd written here. :D

April Moore said...

I knew you were one to watch, Pat.

Jenny said...

First of all, great picture of Moe. Secondly [comment redacted]

April Moore said...

Well played, Jenny, well played . . .

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