Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression: Déjà vu Censored 2016

Censored 2016 argued that the story “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” was ignored by the corporate press. The story was originally published on January...
Spy Plane
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Censored 2016 argued that the story “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” was ignored by the corporate press. The story was originally published on January 5, 2015, by Lauren McCauley in Common Dreams. The story focused on how domestic government spying is leading writers’ fear of using their freedom of expression to address controversial matters.  Since April of 2015, the corporate press has not covered the “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression.”

Censored 2016 argued that “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” was ignored by the corporate press. The story was based on a January 2015, Poets, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN) America report that used interviews and polls of writers in nations that purport to be liberal democracies.  The report concluded that Government surveillance programs are also significantly damaging American credibility while shaking writers’ faith that democratic governments will respect their rights to privacy.

Since April of 2015, the corporate news coverage of “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” has been scant. The corporate press has sought to either justify or deflect US government spying by focusing on other nations. In March 2016, The Wall Street Journal argued that the US spying is a push over compared to China and thus hardly constitutes a problem. Other corporate outlets have focused on spying in nations outside of the US. For example, The New York Times explained how the chilling effect of government spying on journalists in India had resulted in a “writers’ revolt.” The revolt which began in September 2015, resulted from murders and inept government responses to perceived abuses and religious unrest. The political and civil unrest associated with these events led to 35 leading Indian poets have returned their awards from the National Academy of Letters in a “collective revolt”.  The writers in the community are worried that the government is behind the censorship. However, the corporate media in the US has not adequately covered the US Government’s continued domestic spying.

Since April of 2015, the independent news coverage of “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” has been extensive. Independent news outlets in Peru, Great Britain, Turkey, and Cuba among others have reported how domestic government spying of writers has undermined their democracy. In fact the independent outlet The Guardian’s source, “we have already experienced attempts to ban our books and expunge statements of history despite the fact that they are supported by sources and the interpretation is transparent.” In the US, the independent press has mostly focused on the constitutionality of spying rather than its impact on journalists. For example, The Intercept has noted that without public debate law enforcement officials in the US have decides that when a citizen turns on a digital device, it is tantamount to giving police permission to collect data from that device. Similarly, the Intercept has noted that the corporate media’s coverage of a 2016 privacy debate between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the tech-giant Apple is misleading. The debate focuses on whether it is legal for the FBI to force a company to unlock one of its users handheld devices. However, the Intercept points out that this is misleading because it ignores the National Security Administration (NSA) which already has agreements with digital technology companies to unlock user’s handheld devices.  Yet, the 2016 public debate on spying is focused on the FBI which deflects from a necessary constitutional debate about the spying that is actually taking place by the NSA.

Censored 2016 argued that “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” was ignored by the corporate press. The focused on how domestic government spying is leading to self-censorship among writers around the world. The corporate press has sought to either justify or deflect US government spying by focusing on other nations. Meanwhile, the independent news coverage of “Fear of Government Spying is “Chilling” Writers’ Freedom of Expression” has been extensive.

Student Researcher: Dane Kantz

Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon

California State University, Maritime Academy

Student Editor: Justin Lascano (Diablo Valley College)

Categories
Déjà vu

Academic professionals and student writers
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