Click on the links below to show more.
The PEN Declaration on Digital Freedom is a concise statement of PEN’s views on free expression in the digital age that was approved by the Assembly of Delegates — representing 20,000 writers — at the PEN International Congress in Gyeongju, Korea in September 2012. The Declaration is a framework and advocacy tool to help 104 PEN Centers around the world respond to threats in digital media and promote human rights.
The Declaration is grouped into four separate articles that summarize PEN’s stance on critical issues. They cover:
(1) the targeting of individuals by governments;
(3) surveillance and privacy; and
(4) business and human rights.
PEN International maintains a case list of imprisoned, threatened, and murdered writers that is regularly updated. Over the past decade, we have noted a worrying trend: as digital media have expanded the ability of individuals to disseminate information, opinions, and ideas, they have also increased the number of individuals who are vulnerable to persecution or reprisals for their writings, and they have provided governments and private entities new means to access and monitor individual information and expression. The Declaration is PEN’s response to this troubling new reality.
We have compiled resources for online writers, journalists and human rights defenders who need to protect their anonymity, ensure confidential information is kept secure, or bypass censorship controls. Click here to access these tools, available in a range of languages.
The International PEN Charter was adopted in 1948 at the International PEN Congress and reflects concerns about free expression and human rights during an era of traditional media. The Declaration on Digital Freedom incorporates the principles enshrined in the Charter and tailors them to the unique concerns of the digital age. The Declaration does not replace the Charter, but complements it.
The Declaration is currently available in Afrikaans, Arabic, English, French, German, Italian, Kyrgyz, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Slovene, Spanish, Turkish, Xhosa, and Zulu. We hope to translate the Declaration into more languages soon. If you would like to translate the Declaration into your language, please contact our International Policy and Advocacy Officer, Sarah Clarke, at email@example.com.
Before the Declaration, PEN had never reached a consensus as to how it would adapt its advocacy to the digital age. PEN reached out to experts from civil society, government, business, and academia, and reviewed numerous documents in assembling the Declaration on Digital Freedom, including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee General Comment No. 34, the Silicon Valley Standard, and the Global Network Initiative Principles, among many others. None captured the unique challenges of PEN centers themselves, so the best portions were incorporated into the Declaration to meet the needs of PEN.
The Declaration was unanimously approved by the Assembly of Delegates representing 20,000 writers at the PEN International Congress. All PEN centers are autonomous but must adhere to the PEN Charter. The Declaration, by contrast, is a statement of principles and not a binding document on PEN Centers. The Declaration is also not a treaty and is not binding on states or individuals. However, we believe that the Declaration is a useful framework not just for PEN Centers but for governments, civil society, and corporations alike.
The Declaration is meant to serve as an advocacy tool to support freedom of expression. We have developed these case studies (available in Word or pdf formats) that can help you think about how you would use the Declaration in campaigns, press releases, and social media.