Monday, April 18, 2016

Ctrl + Z by Meg Leta Jones

The right to be forgotten is a tough issue to decide. I mean, I was trying to decide where I stood on it, and for every different case study, I came up with a different verdict.

A victim of a crime who wants to stop being defined as a victim? Definitely for the right.

A pedophile applying to teach at a pre-school and wants his criminal record hidden? No way. Even if he has managed to reform himself, I think the school has the right to know his past and then decide if they want to trust him.

For every case where I think "yeah, it's a sensible right", I can think of another where I think "Nah, people deserve to know this".

Basically, this is a complicated issue. And Ctrl+Z tries to make sense of the mess. The American position is basically framed as "the public has a right to know" and the European position is "you have a right to be forgotten". This is a generalisation, but that's how I saw the two positions. After introducing the two polar views, the book looks at the "theoretical and conceptual muddles surrounding to be the right to be forgotten", and then criticises the way this issue has been presented before reframing it. The last chapter looks at the US system as a case study and "discusses how to construct digital redemption within existing legal systems". The last chapter says "International Community", but it's really about the US and the EU.

This book is a tough read, but I managed to understand it. It's probably not for the general audience - I have the sneaking suspicion that I understood it basically because I've studied this issue in class before. The text can be dry at times, and I had to reread certain pages to make sure I understood what it's about.

If you're somewhat familiar with the Right to be Forgotten and want a deeper look into it, this is probably the book for you. If you want an accessible introduction, then you might want to look somewhere else.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

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