Fear of government surveillance is prompting writers worldwide—even those residing in countries that claim to uphold free expression—to self-censor their works, according to a new report published Monday by international literary association PEN American, leading to a \u0022devastating impact\u0022 on the freedom of information.The report, Global Chilling: The Impact of Mass Surveillance on International Writers (pdf), found that more than half of the 800 writers surveyed think that mass government surveillance has \u0022significantly damaged U.S. credibility as a global champion of free expression for the long term.\u0022Further, according to the survey, writers living in countries defined as \u0022Free\u0022 by U.S.-based NGO watchdog Freedom House expressed an almost equal level of concern about surveillance as those living in countries defined as \u0022Not Free\u0022 (75% and 80%, respectively), prompting notable levels of self-censorship.\u0022The levels of self-censorship reported by writers living in liberal democracies are astonishing, and demonstrate that mass surveillance programs conducted by democracies are chilling freedom of expression among writers,\u0022 the report notes. According to the survey, 34 percent of writers living in liberal democracies admitted to self-censoring, compared with 61 percent of writers living in authoritarian countries, and 44 percent in semi-democratic countries.\u0022Writers are reluctant to speak about, write about, or conduct research on topics that they think may draw government scrutiny. This has a devastating impact on freedom of information as well: If writers avoid exploring topics for fear of possible retribution, the material available to readers—particularly those seeking to understand the most controversial and challenging issues facing the world today—may be greatly impoverished.\u0022Survey respondents also voiced concern that surveillance by the U.S. government and \u0022Five Eyes\u0022 partner countries (which include Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, and New Zealand) has damaged their reputation abroad and thus their ability to champion free expression and other human rights around the world.When asked, \u0022how have recent revelations about U.S. government surveillance programs affected the United States’ credibility on free expression issues around the world?\u0022 roughly 60 percent of writers in both Western Europe and the Five Eyes countries said that U.S. credibility \u0022has been significantly damaged for the long term.\u0022\u0022The USA has fundamentally damaged the \u0026#039;Western\u0026#039; model of human and citizen’s rights,\u0022 one respondent wrote, \u0022turning large parts of the world’s population (including the U.S. population) into right-less objects of surveillance and secret intelligence operations.\u0022The international survey follows a 2013 PEN report which found that in the months following NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden\u0026#039;s disclosures of widespread government surveillance, American writers had become \u0022overwhelming[ly] worried\u0022 about government overreach and one in six had reported self-censoring as a result.A June 2014 report by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch also found that journalists and lawyers were increasingly avoiding work on controversial topics over fear of government spying.\u0022Surveillance is insidious,\u0022 said Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of PEN American Center. \u0022While governments may intend these bulk collection programs to be used only to detect terrorist wrongdoing, people under surveillance change their behavior to avoid triggering scrutiny. Because the programs are so broad, they could affect billions of people whose sense of privacy and creative freedom is curtailed.\u0022The survey, conducted by non-partisan research firm the FDR Group, comes in advance of a full report to be released this spring. PEN hopes these results will inform public and Congressional debates on the future of mass surveillance. The group is calling for \u0022the right to be free of unwarranted surveillance\u0022 to be made a \u0022cornerstone of U.S. surveillance policy and practice.\u0022 In addition, PEN American proposes a number of legislative reforms, including allowing provisions of the Patriot Act to expire and ending surveillance programs carried out under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act and Executive Order 12333.