Writers Against Mass SurveillanceRead the chatscript from this session of #litchat here.

While researching slow-working poisons that don’t leave a trace, the thought hit me that if anyone were to scrutinize my browsing history, they might conclude that I was seeking a means to murder. In truth, I was. A character in my novel wanted to slowly kill another character and I needed to know the effects and antidotes of an authentic poison.

Over the years I’ve heard and read that same quip from other writers who research edgy topics for their writing. The joking, however, took on new concern after the extent of surveillance upon private citizens was revealed in the security information leaked by Edward Snowden this year. In light of those revelations, the PEN America report of November 13, 2013, “Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives U.S. Writers to Self-Censor,” issued a wake-up call for writers (indeed, for all creatives) regarding the collection of their private electronic data.

Following the publication of that report, a handful of prominent writers put their clout together to form Writers Against Mass Surveillance. The group produced a petition, “A Stand for Democracy in the Digital Age,” denouncing the collection of private digital data and among other action points, calls on the United Nations to “acknowledge the central importance of protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an international bill of digital rights.”  The petition now includes more than 500 author signatures from 81 countries.

Writers from throughout the world can add their signatures to the petition here.

As of this writing, 161,518 writers have signed in support of a “A Stand for Democracy in the Digital Age.” You can view a list of signers here.

Later This Week in #litchat

WritingWednesday
Taking a break today for redesign of #litchat in 2014.

Guest Host Friday
Tom Franklin and Beth Fennelly, coauthors of The Tilted World