Digitalization is transforming the world at an unprecedented pace in human history giving people powerful tools to improve lives and demand greater accountability; paradoxically, its misuse also poses serious challenges to freedom of expression.
The challenges posed by state and private sector policies, as well as the acts of non-state actors, stifle the freedom of expression of writers, journalists, artists, rights activists and make them easy targets of arbitrary detention, imprisonment, harassment, intimidation and violence.
Revelations of mass surveillance by NSA whistle-blower, Edward Snowden in 2013 demonstrated the vast, unwarranted and bulk collection of millions of users’ data by the United States and four other countries known as “Five Eyes”. Mr Snowden, who has been granted temporary asylum in Russia, faces espionage charges over his actions if he returns to USA.
Furthermore, governments increasingly restrict access to Internet, social media and mobile communication through censorship, filtering, blocking of data, and conduct mass surveillance to suppress dissenting voices in the digital space. The unauthorized sharing of personal data of millions of users by tech firms breaches data protection, anonymity and privacy of users. It also raises questions on interfering with democratic processes worldwide.
The Finnish PEN’s passed Resolution in PEN International Congress in India can be read in this link: https://pen-international.org/app/uploads/Resolution-on-stifling-of-digital-freedom.pdf. Swedish PEN and Norwegian PEN seconded the Resolution.