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Protecting Reputation in a Digital Age: Perspectives from Canadian Young People
Providing legal remedies for defamation has historically been one of the primary ways in which common law has supported people in protecting their reputations from harm. This form of support, however, is limited in a number of ways that constrain the degree of reputational protection, typically in order to ensure that countervailing values such as free expression are not unduly undermined. For example, defamation law in Canada only applies to untrue statements. The apparent anonymity, widespread distributional capacity and lasting impact of digitally networked communications raise important questions about the degree to which law has struck the right balance between dignity/reputation and free expression, and whether law is understood as a meaningful response to reputational harms. In 2017, The eQuality Project, with funding from the Law Commission of Ontario, set out to better understand young people’s perspectives on online defamation and reputation. This presentation reports on those findings, including with respect to participants’ perspectives on truth, falsity and reputation online, as well as law’s capacity to meaningfully respond to reputational harms.
About the presenter:
Professor Jane Bailey is a Full Professor of Law at the University of Ottawa where she co-leads The eQuality Project, a 7-year SSHRC funded partnership focused on the impact of online commercial profiling on youths’ identities and social relationships. Jane leads the Project stream focused on cyberviolence and vulnerable youth. Among her proudest professional achievements are co-leading The eGirls Project, creating and teaching a law course called Cyberfeminism, and appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Jarvis voyeurism case. In fall 2018 she will be a Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University and at RMIT in Australia.