A dozen New Zealand authors have signed an international writers' petition to the United Nations against state surveillance.

The 500 signatories from 81 countries included five Nobel Prize winners and international literary heavyweights Arundhati Roy, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.

The Kiwi contingent included Lloyd Jones, Elizabeth Knox, C.K. Stead, Bill Manhire and Nicky Hager.

"We demand the right for all people, as democratic citizens, to determine to what extent their personal data may be collected, stored and processed, and by whom; to obtain information on where their data is stored and how it is being used; to obtain the deletion of their data if it has been illegally collected and stored," the petition read.


"We call on all states and corporations to respect these rights. We call on all citizens to stand up and defend these rights. We call on the United Nations to acknowledge the central importance of protecting civil rights in the digital age, and to create an International Bill of Digital Rights."

Lloyd Jones said he signed up because of his "paramount belief in the dignity of the individual".

The "all-pervasive surveillance-enabled advances of technology", he said, were "an affront to that dignity".

"If we fear any step that takes us closer towards the Orwellian dystopian society then as citizens we need to make it clearly understood what is acceptable. If we are not part of that conversation, then look out."

Fellow Wellingtonian Tim Corballis said the signatures emphasised an important point being made across the globe.Sam Boyer