For Immediate Release


This morning, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board released its report on surveillance programs under FISA Section 702, calling for only minor changes.

The satisfaction the Board expresses over Section 702’s meager protections for privacy rights are cold comfort to citizens around the world whose communications are being swept up with no transparency about why they are being taken, how they’ll be used, or what other actors may gain access to them.

Although the Board acknowledged foreign citizens’ human right to privacy, it sidesteps the central question of the United States’ obligation to uphold those rights.  The human rights of foreign citizens are at best an afterthought in these recommendations, despite evidence that global confidence in the morality and integrity of the U.S.’s counter-terror programs is a key ingredient for their success.

American businesses, media, government, and ordinary citizens depend increasingly on global clients and partners who need to trust that they can communicate with Americans without forfeiting their privacy.

Writers, dissidents, and human rights defenders need to be able to talk and share information without fear that their messages may be swept up into a U.S. government database and potentially passed along to foreign intelligence agencies. Sweeping surveillance programs like Section 702 stifle free speech and communication worldwide. The Board overlooks these concerns entirely, and in doing so, fails in its core duty to protect privacy and civil liberties.


Founded in 1922, PEN American Center is an association of 3,500 American writers working to bring down barriers to free expression worldwide.

Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director:, 212.334.1660 x 104
Sarah Edkins, Communications Manager:, 212.334.1660 x 116 (t), 617-947-6512 (m)