Writers of the world call for end to mass online surveillance

Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann and Colm Tóibín among 560 signatories to international appeal

Roddy Doyle signed the appeal, which will be carried in 27 newspapers worldwide

Roddy Doyle signed the appeal, which will be carried in 27 newspapers worldwide

Tue, Dec 10, 2013, 01:00


Five Nobel literature laureates are among 560 international writers who today have put their names to an appeal, “A stand for democracy in the digital age”, against widespread “mass surveillance” by governments and corporations.

It is, they argue, an attack on “a basic pillar of democracy . . . the inviolable integrity of the individual”.

The appeal, signed by Irish writers Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann and Colm Tóibín, is being carried in 27 newspapers worldwide, including The Irish Times (see below). It calls for the drafting by the UN of an International Bill of Digital Rights and on governments to sign and adhere to such a convention.

“In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications all humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested,” the appeal argues.

“This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes. Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion. Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical triumphs: the presumption of innocence.”

Among the co-signees from some 80 countries are the Nobel laureates Orhan Pamuk, JM Coetzee, Elfriede Jelinek, Günter Grass and Tomas Tranströmer.

The appeal comes in the wake of recent revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden exposing extensive and intrusive telephone and internet surveillance by the US and its western allies.

It was organised by an independent international group of authors Juli Zeh, Ilija Trojanow, Eva Menasse, Janne Teller, Priya Basil, Isabel Cole, Josef Haslinger – though personal contacts and private networks.

The organisers are inviting others to sign the petition at www.change.org/surveillance.

A stand for democracy in the digital age: International writers’ appeal

In recent months the extent of mass surveillance has become common knowledge. With a few clicks of the mouse the state can access your mobile device, your e-mail, your social networking and internet searches. It can follow your political leanings and activities and in partnership with internet corporations, it collects and stores your data and thus can predict your consumption and behaviour. The basic pillar of democracy is the inviolable integrity of the individual. Human integrity extends beyond the physical body. In their thoughts and in their personal environments and communications all humans have the right to remain unobserved and unmolested. This fundamental human right has been rendered null and void through abuse of technological developments by states and corporations for mass surveillance purposes. 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.

Surveillance violates the private sphere and compromises freedom of thought and opinion.

Mass surveillance treats every citizen as a potential suspect. It overturns one of our historical triumphs, the presumption of innocence.

Surveillance makes the individual transparent while the state and the corporation operate in secret. As we have seen this power is being systemically abused.

Surveillance is theft. This data is not public property: it belongs to us. When it is used to predict our behaviour we are robbed of something else: the principle of free will crucial to democratic liberty.

We demand the right for all people to determine as democratic citizens to what extent their personal data may be legally collected stored and processed and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored.

– WE CALL ON ALL STATES AND CORPORATIONS to respect these rights.

– WE CALL ON ALL CITIZENS to stand up and defend these rights.

– WE CALL 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.

– WE CALL ON GOVERNMENTS to sign and adhere to such a convention

ALBANIA Anila Wilms. Algeria Boualem Sansal. Angola José Eduardo Agualusa. Argentina Maria Teresa Andruetto, Edgardo Cozarinsky, María Sonia Cristoff, Marcelo Figueras, Carlos Gamerro, Alberto Manguel, Guillermo Martinez, Elsa Osorio, Claudia Piñeiro, Samanta Schweblin.

AUSTRALIA Debra Adelaide, Chris Andrews, Venero Armanno, Larissa Beherendt, James Bradley, Brian Castro, Nick Cave, Miriam Cosic, Michelle de Kretser, Nick Earls, Delia Falconer, Anna Funder, Helen Garner, Elisabeth Holdsworth, Linda Jaivin, Gail Jones, Evelyn Juers, Thomas Keneally, Nam Le, James Ley, Angelo Loukakis, David Malouf, Frank Moorhouse, Peter Rose, Rosie Scott, John Tranter, Kirsten Tranter, Arnold Zable.

AUSTRALIA/USA Lily Brett, Geraldine Brooks.

AUSTRIA Olga Flor, Karl-Markus Gauß, Thomas Glavinic, Josef Haslinger, Monika Helfer, Klaus Hoffer, Alois Hotschnig, Elfriede Jelinek, Michael Köhlmeier, Eva Menasse, Robert Menasse, Robert Pfaller, Doron Rabinovici, Kathrin Röggla, David Schalko, Robert Schindel, Clemens J Setz, Marlene Streeruwitz, Peter Weibel, Josef Winkler.

AUSTRIA/GERMANY Daniel Kehlmann.

BANGLADESH Ahmad Mostofa Kamal.

BANGLADESH/UK Tahmima Anam.

BELARUS Svetlana Alexievich.

BELARUS/USA Valzhyna Mort.

BELGIUM Gie Bogaert, Saskia De Coster, Patrick De Rynck, Jozef Deleu, Laurent Demoulin, Charles Ducal, Joris Gerits, Jos Geysels, Luuk Gruwez, Thomas Gunzig, Peter Holvoet-Hanssen, Elisabeth Marain, Pierre Mertens, Bart Moeyaert, Elvis Peeters, Erik Spinoy, Rik Torfs, Koen Van Bockstal, Walter van den Broeck, Miriam Van hee, David van Reybrouck, Annelies Verbeke, Paul Verhaeghe, Roel Verschueren, Erik Vlaminck, Georges Wildemeersch.

BELGIUM/FRANCE Carl Norac.

BELGIUM/NETHERLANDS Joke van Leeuwen.

BOSNIA Miljenko Jergovi´c

BRAZIL Marçal Aquino, Rafael Cardoso, Bernardo Carvalho, João Paulo Cuenca, João Ubaldo Ribeiro, Luiz Ruffato, Paulo Scott.

BULGARIA Georgi Gospodinov.

BULGARIA/UK Kapka Kassabova.

CAMEROON Patrice Nganang.

CANADA Margaret Atwood, Ken Babstock, Cory Doctorow, Yann Martel, Colin McAdam, Michael Ondaatje, John Ralston Saul, Madeleine Thien.

CHILE Carla Guelfenbein, Arturo Fontaine Talavera.

CHILE/ARGENTINA/USA Ariel Dorfman.

CHILE/USA Lina Meruane.

CHINA Liao Yiwu .

COLOMBIA Antonio Ungar, Héctor Abad, Oscar Collazos, Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Juan Gabriel Vásquez.

CROATIA Slavenka Drakuli´c, Nenad Popovi´c, Dubravka Ugreši´c

CUBA Leonardo Padura Fuentes.

CUBA/SPAIN Iván de la Nuez.

CZECH REP Jaroslav Rudi.

DENMARK Niels Barfoed, Suzanne Brøgger, Tom Buk-Swienty, Peter H Fogtdal, Katrine Marie Guldager, Iselin C Hermann, Peter Høeg, Sven Holm, Hanne Vibeke Holst, Carsten Jensen, Pia Juul, Peter Øvig Knudsen, Morten Kringelbach, Jørgen Leth, Ib Michael, Morten Ramsland, Morten Sabroe, Pia Tafdrup, Janne Teller.

DJIBOUTI Abdourahman Waberi.

ECUADOR Francisco Proaño Arandi.

EGYPT Alaa al-Aswany, Nawal El Saadawi, Ahdaf Soueif.

EGYPT/USA Mona Eltahawy.

EL SALVADOR Horacio Castellanos Moya.

FINLAND Monika Fagerholm, Jarkko Tontti, Kjell Westö.

FRANCE Jean-Jacques Beineix, Céline Curiol, Marie Darrieussecq, Philippe Djian, Lionel Duroy, Mathias Énard, Jérôme Ferrari, Anne-Marie Garat, Laurent Gaudé, Pascale Hugues, Alban Lefranc , Roger Lenglet , Virginie Lou-Nony , Jean Mattern , Betty Mialet , Catherine Millet , Frédéric Mitterrand , Hélène Neveu Kringelbach , Philippe Pozzo di Borgo , Flore Vasseur .

FRANCE/CANADA Martin Winckler.

France/USA Jonathan Littell.

GERMANY Friedrich Ani, Michael Augustin, Anke Bastrop, Ulrich Beck, Artur Becker, Josef Bierbichler, Marica Bodroži´c, Mirko Bonné, Ralf Bönt, Nora Bossong, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, Daniela Dahn, Liane Dirks, Doris Dörrie, Ulrike Draesner, Kurt Drawert, Tanja Dückers, Carolin Emcke, Sherko Fatah, David Finck, Julia Franck, Franziska Gerstenberg, Christoph Giesa, Roman Graf, Günter Grass, Kerstin Grether, Annett Gröschner, Gert Heidenreich, Christoph Hein, Thomas Hettche, Paul Ingendaay, Steffen Kopetzky, Mareike Krügel, Michael Krüger, Michael Kumpfmüller, Antje Kunstmann, Katja Lange-Müller, Benjamin Lauterbach, Jo Lendle, Michael Lentz, Ulli Lust, Angelina Maccarone, Kristof Magnusson, Sten Nadolny, Christiane Neudecker, Norbert Niemann, Ingo Niermann, Markus Orths, Georg M Oswald, Inka Parei, Annette Pehnt, Antje Rávic Strubel, Annika Reich, Moritz Rinke, Charlotte Roos, Eugen Ruge, Peter Schneider, Erasmus Schöfer, Ingo Schulze, Hilal Sezgin, Peter Sloterdijk, Tilman Spengler, Burkhard Spinnen, Ulrike Steglich, Hans-Ulrich Treichel, Ilija Trojanow, Regula Venske, Marius von Mayenburg, Thomas von Steinaecker, Gisela von Wysocki, Jan Wagner, Alissa Walser, Theresia Walser, Florian Werner, Roger Willemsen, Ron Winkler, Juli Zeh, Jan Christophersen.

GHANA/USA Kwame Dawes,

GREECE Kostas Akrivos , Petros Markaris, Amanda Michalopoulos, Michailis Modinos, Nina Rapi, Thanassis Valtinos.

HAITI/USA Edwidge Danticat.

HONG KONG/USA Xu Xi Hong.

HUNGARY Tibor Babiczky, Zsófia Balla, Zsófia Bán, Báthori Csaba, György Dragomán, Peter Esterhazy, Krisztián Grecsó, Noémi Kiss, László Krasznahorkai, Lajos Parti Nagy, Anna T. Szabó.

ICELAND Björk, Oddný Eir, Einar Már Guðmundsson, Hallgrímur Helgason, Bjarni Jónsson, Andri Snær Magnason, Steinnun Sigurðardóttir, Sjón, Jón Kalman Stefánsson.

INDIA Shahid Amin, Amit Chaudhuri, Tishani Doshi, Naresh Fernandes, Amitav Ghosh, Ramchandra Guha, Anjum Hassan, Ranjit Hoskoté, Raj Kamal Jha, Ruchir Joshi, Girish Karnad, Mukul Kesavan, Amitava Kumar, Pankaj Mishra, Kiran Nagarkar, Jerry Pinto, Arundhati Roy, Arundhati Subramaniam, Jeet Thayil, Altaf Tyrewala.

INDIA/UK Salil Tripathi, Suketu Mehta.

IRAQ Jabbar Yassin Hussin.

IRAQ/FINLAND Hassan Blasim.

IRAQ/GERMANY Najem Wali.

IRELAND Roddy Doyle, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín.

ISRAEL Assaf Gavron, David Grossman, Etgar Keret, Yitzhak Laor, Sami Michael, Amos Oz, Zeruya Shalev.

ITALY Andrea Bajani Italy, Massimo Carlotto, Erri de Luca, Paolo Giordano, Dacia Mariani.

ITALY/AUSTRIA Sabine Gruber.

JAPAN Tosihiko Uji. Jordan Elias Farkouh.

LEBANON Dominique Eddé.

LEBANON/CANADA Rawi Hage.

LIBYA/EGYPT Ahmed Fagih.

LUXEMBOURG Ranga Yogeshwar.

MACEDONIA Nikola Madzirov.

MALAWI Samson Kambalu.

MALAYSIA Tan Twan Eng.

MALTA Pierre Mejlak.

MEXICO Rosa Beltrán, Sabina Berman, Carmen Boullosa, Ana Clavel, Alma Guillermoprieto, Angeles Mastretta.

NETHERLANDS René Appel, Abdelkader Benali, Ronald Bos, Ian Buruma, Gerrit Bussink, Saskia de Jong, Job Degenaar, Renate Dorrestein, Rudolf Geel, Arnon Grünberg, Joke J Hermsen, Marjolin Hof, Tjitske Jansen, Liesbeth Lagemaat, Thomas Lieske, Geert Mak, Nelleke Noordervliet, Ester Naomi Perquin, Aleid Truijens, Manon Uphoff, Jan van Mersbergen, Anne Vegter.

NEW ZEALAND Pip Adam, Tim Corballis, Nicky Hager, Ingrid Horrocks, Lloyd Jones, Elizabeth Knox, Bill Manhire, Courtney Sina Meredith, Sarah Quigley, Anna Sanderson, C. K. Stead.

NEW ZEALAND/UK Susan Pearce.

NIGERIA Helon Habila, Chika Unigwe.

NIGERIA/GERMANY Olumide Popoola.

NORWAY Jostein Gaarder, Per Petterson.

PAKISTAN Mohsin Hamid, Ahmed Rashid.

PAKISTAN/UK Kamila Shamsie.

PALESTINE Suad Amiry, Mourid Barghouti, Najwan Darwish, Nathalie Handal, Raja Shehadeh, Adania Shibli, Ghassan Zaqtan.

PALESTINE/ISRAEL Ala Hlehel.

PERU Santiago Roncagliolo.

PHILIPPINES/CANADA Miguel Syjuco.

POLAND Ignacy Karpowicz, Beata Stasi´cska, Witold Szab´cowski, Olga Tokarczuk.

PORTUGAL Pedro Rosa Mendes.

ROMANIA Mircea Cartarescu.

RUSSIA Vladimir Aristov, Alan Cherchesov, Victor Erofeyev, Alisa Ganiyeva, Dmitri Golynko, Alexander Ilichevsky, Sergei Lebedev, Stanislav Lvovsky, Mikhail Shishkin, Alexander Skidan, Alexander Snegiryov.

SAMOA Albert Wendt.

SENEGAL Cheikh Hamidou Kane.

SERBIA David Albahari.

SERBIA/CROATIA Bora ´Cosi´c.

SLOVAKIA Michal Hvorecký.

SLOVENIA Gabriela Babnik, Aleš Car, Aleš Debeljak, Mojca Kumerdej, Miha Mazzini, Dušan Šarotar, Aleš Šteger.

SOMALIA/SOUTH AFRICA Nuruddin Farah.

SOUTH AFRICA Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, Zakes Mda, Margie Orford, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Gillian Slovo, Ivan Vladislavi?, Zukiswa Wanner.

SOUTH AFRICA/AUSTRALIA JM Coetzee.

SOUTH KOREA Hwang Sok-Yong.

SPAIN Ricardo Bada, Javier Cercas, Rafael Chirbes, Juan Goytisolo, Julio Llamazares, Javier Marías, Antonio Muñoz Molina, Rosa Montero, Javier Salinas.

SPAIN/GERMANY José F A Oliver.

SUDAN Jamal Mahjoub.

SWEDEN Arne Dahl, Per Olov Enquist, Aris Fioretos, Jan Guillou, Björn Larsson, Henning Mankell, Håkan Nesser, Tomas Tranströmer, Svante Weyler.

SWITZERLAND Melinda Nadj Abonji, Sybille Berg, Peter Bieri, Irena Brežná, Melitta Breznik, Iso Camartin, Alex Capus, Martin Dean, Catalin Florescu, Christian Haller, Reto Hänny, Eveline Hasler, Franz Hohler, Pedro Lenz, Charles Lewinsky, Klaus Merz, Julian Schütt, Peter Stamm, Alain Sulzer, Urs Widmer, Syria Hala Mohammed.

TANZANIA/UK Abdulrazak Gurnah.

THAILAND/US Rattawut Lapcharoensap.

TUNISIA/FRANCE Tahar Bekri .

TURKEY Yasar Kemal, Murathan Mungun, Orhan Pamuk, Buket Uzuner.

UK Akkas Al-Ali, Tariq Ali, David Almond, Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, Priya Basil, John Berger, Jane Borodale, John Burnside, Louis de Bernières, Isobel Dixon, Joanne Harris, Kazuo Ishiguro, Pico Iyer, Stephen Kelman, Hari Kunzru, Ian McEwan, David Mitchell, Stella Newman, Martin Rowson, Manda Scott, Will Self, Owen Sheers, Philip Sington, Adam Thirwell, David Vann, Nigel Warbuton, Irvine Welsh, Jeanette Winterson.

UK/INDIA Rana Dasgupta Anjali Joseph, Nikita Lalwani.

UK/JORDAN Fadia Faqir.

UK/PAKISTAN Hanif Kureishi.

UK/US Lionel Shriver.

UKRAINE Myroslav Marynovych, Oksana Zabuzhko.

USA John Ashbery, Paul Auster, Elise Blackwell, TC Boyle, Alexander Chee, Isabel Fargo Cole, Billy Collins, Don DeLillo, Colin Dickey, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth Eslami, Richard Ford, George Dawes Green, Joe Hurley, Elizabeth Kostova, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Jonathan Lethem, Barry Lopez, Ben Marcus, Tyler McMahon, Claire Messud, Josip Novakovich, George Packer, Tim Parrish, Richard Powers, James Salter, Sapphire, Richard Sennett, Jane Smiley, Anne Waldman, Alice Walker, Eliot Weinberger, Jeffrey Yang.

USA/BOSNIA Aleksandar Hemon.

USA/ROMANIA Domnica Radulescu.

ZIMBABWE Brian Chikwava.



This appeal runs today in each of the following papers: Austria – Der Standard; Australia – Sydney Review of Books and Australian Book Review; Bangladesh – The Daily Star; Belgium – De Standaard; Brazil – O Globo; Croatia – Novi list; Denmark – Politiken; France – Le Monde; Finland – Hufvudstadsbladet; Germany – Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Greece – Eleftherotypia; Hungary – Népszabadság; Iceland – Fr ettabladid; Ireland – The Irish Times; Israel – Haaretz; Italy – La Repubblica; Kenya – The Star; Netherlands – de Volkskrant; Norway – Aftenbladet; Pakistan – Dawn; Poland – Gazeta Wyborcza; Russia – Nezavisimaya Gazeta; Slovakia – SME; Slovenia – Delo; Spain – El Pais; Switzerland – Neue Zürcher Zeitung; Sweden – Dagens Nyheter; UK – Guardian



Please add your signature
to the appeal through
the following link
change.org/surveillance