Is digital surveillance creating a culture of self-censorship?

ORG Glasgow
ORG Glasgow
Public group
Location image of event venue


In 2013, Edward Snowden revealed the scale of surveillance by corporate and government bodies on the data we generate online every time we simply browse, post on social media, buy things, talk to family and friends, publish and research. What that might say about our patterns of behaviour, personality, beliefs and ideas are of great interest to many who might seek to make predictions and influence. How does this level of actual or perceived digital surveillance affect behaviour? Have writers now become less willing to research and discuss certain topics?

In 2018, Scottish PEN in collaboration with the University of Strathclyde, published a report, Scottish Chilling: Impact of Government and Corporate Surveillance on Writers, which sought to address this question. Based on a survey of 118 writers in Scotland, this ground-breaking study looked at the question of self-censorship among writers and what limitations that placed on their work. This not only affects their own freedom of enquiry and expression. But it also has huge implications for the range of topics and ideas that readers can access to better understand the world around them and fight against the growing tsunami of fake news.

Guest speakers will be award-winning freelance journalist, Eve Livingston (Guardian, Independent, VICE and BBC) and the report authors: Nik Williams (Project Manager, Scottish PEN), David McMenemy (Lecturer in Information Science at the University of Strathclyde, and Deputy Director for Postgraduate Teaching) and Dr Lauren Smith (University of Edinburgh). Moderator for the panel discussion will be Dr Angela Daly (Senior Law Lecturer at the University of Strathclyde).

Join us for a fascinating evening of talks and discussions that will explore how free we now are to research, explore and express ourselves in a world where more and more of what we click is being watched.