While the current title isn't bad, I think it's better to discourage the editorialization of titles, whether by adding tags such as "fiction" or by using catchy excerpts.
Having said that, the title in this case was changed to emphasize something which only made up a small part of the story: that the fictitious daughter was first sued in the womb. This is only briefly mentioned in the story itself, so the title editing looks a little bit like link-baiting to me, which is why I would have preferred if it were left unedited.
Of course, another HN poster pointed out that the author posted the title on twitter. Since I do not know or follow the author, I did not know that when I wrote my first comment, at which point it looked like the title was changed purely for the purpose of catching peoples attention. Had I known this 9 hours ago, I probably wouldn't have commented.
No, that's actually not what happened. First of all, they did not take over Congo because Congo never existed before Leopold drew it up on a map on a rainy Saturday afternoon together with Stanley. Also, the country of Belgium did not take over Congo, it was a private enterprise by king Leopold II, although the government later took it over from him after reports of atrocities started to trickle through to western Europe. Third, they didn't make people slaves. The slave traders operating in Congo were mostly African-Arabic. The Belgians levied taxes on the population. This was first collected in rubber, and the colonist but also the Congolese army committed atrocities such as the cutting off of hands, murder of village elders, and so on to maximize production. Many more lives were claimed by the sleeping disease. Later on they switched to taxing in money which meant that many young men had to work in the mines to earn money for their village, often under really bad conditions. The wars, dictatorships, and genocides started after the independence.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not making excuses here or anything, but it irks me when people reduce the complex history of a beautiful country to an overly simplified and plainly false representation of the facts.
Are you irked by the fictional father's mis-read of history, or by the fictional lawyers who distorted the truth to put together a micro-lawsuit for reparations? Or is your assumption that Paul Ford doesn't know what he's talking about?
(FWIW, I'm inclined to believe that the Congo reference is an unintentional sleight and a throw-away example used to make a few points about the reach of these micro-lawsuits rather than a troll, but I don't find that it detracts from the illusion because it sounds pretty representative of the understanding of the issue some upper middle class dad might actually have.)
For example, I am irked every time I hear someone use the phrase '5 times more', because then I'm always left wondering if they whether they really mean '5 times as much', or '6 times as much'.
For example, the characters in The Right to Read are props in the author's morality play. Whereas these characters are characters, and while you can still see the author moving around behind the scenes he's done his best to let the characters speak for themselves. I'm not sure they fully agree with him.
/seriously, it does remind me of Bradbury
Interestingly, I don't think the "privacy" issue is the big change in the future described, but rather the fact that lawsuits are so much more automated. That's the real change that makes the story "possible".
On the other hand, I think this title is a better one, so please disregard the previous sentence. ;)
The big problem with legal processes right now is that they have a high frictional cost. If that cost can be brought down -- on both sides, so that suits can be filed more widely for smaller amounts AND people have a reason to defend against frivolous suits -- then I'd say we would be better off, not worse.
It makes the scenario scarier, in some ways, than a clearly dystopian future, as one could see society falling into just such a suboptimal trap, where the gains in one area allow apathy to to shrug off the concerns in another.
I hope it's not too much to ask for both legal efficiency and fair copyright laws, not to mention privacy.
As for frivolous suits, I think you're right that leveling the playing field will also let the victims retaliate more easily. I'd hope they prove less stubborn than spammers, at any rate; I don't like the idea of spam that carries legal weight.
Having the overhead of a parasitic legal system spread thin over the entire population doesn't make it any less of a monstrous sink of lifetime.
So there would actually be two mutually parasitic industries, much as there are today for virii/virus filters, and spam/spam filters. Of course they're still both social parasites, not a nice thing, etc.
I think that would be the legal equivalent of expecting average Joes to debug their own kernels when their printer doesn't work.
As I read it, the theme is simply a legal system run amok, facilitated by data mining and hyper-efficient communication.