Challenging the Carceral Imaginary in a Digital Age: Epistemic Asymmetries and the Right to Be Forgotten

Las Torres de Lucca: Revista Internacional de Filosofía Política 10 (19):3-14 (2021)
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This paper argues that debates regarding legal protections to preserve the privacy of data subjects, such as those involving the European Union’s right to be forgotten, have tended to overlook group-level forms of epistemic asymmetry and their impact on members of historically oppressed groups. In response, I develop what I consider an abolitionist approach to issues of digital justice. I begin by exploring international debates regarding digital privacy and the right to be forgotten. Then, I turn to the long history of informational asymmetries impacting racialized populations in the United States. Such asymmetries, I argue, comprise epistemic injustices that are also implicated within the patterns of racialized incarceration in the United States. The final section brings together questions regarding the impact of such epistemic injustices on incarcerated peoples and focuses specifically on the public availability of criminal histories in online search databases as a fundamental issue within conversations regarding digital justice. I thus conclude by building from the work of contemporary abolitionist writers to argue that the underlying concerns of an individualized right to be forgotten should be transformed into a collective effort to undermine societal carceral imaginaries.



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Andrea Pitts
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

Citations of this work

Feminist political philosophy.Noëlle McAfee - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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