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NSA surveillance harmful to press freedom: 'People are increasingly scared to talk about anything'

A report released Monday by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union found that mass surveillance by the NSA and other spying agencies is seriously undermining press freedom and citizens' ability to hold the U.S. government accountable.

In the 120-page document, "With Liberty to Monitor All," the civil liberties organizations report that mass electronic surveillance, in addition to intruding on Americans' private lives, has a chilling effect on the media and broader freedoms of speech and association. The study includes interviews with journalists who say that their sources and colleagues are now more cautious about the information they share and report out of fear of government reprisal. "People are increasingly scared to talk about anything," said one Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter.

"The U.S. holds itself out as a model of freedom and democracy, but its own surveillance programs are threatening the values it claims to represent," said report author Alex Sinha. "The U.S. should genuinely confront the fact that its massive surveillance programs are damaging many critically important rights."