Social Credit Systems

Social Credit Systems

China’s effort to implement a Social Credit System (SCS) offers a fascinating case of a technological ecosystem designed for social control. Driven by public-private partnerships, it combines public policy and law making with data-driven solutions to monitor and control citizens’ actions and identities. Underlying the SCS are notions of “good citizens”, the type of citizen that optimally contributes to a flourishing political community, and of “civic virtues”, the state of character that contributes to a desirable civic life.

Citizen scoring systems involve a wide range of challenges: [1] Technological, how to register participants, record data, and measure activities; [2] political, who determines the definition and criteria of “good citizenship”, its data sources, and policy areas; [3] ethical, what moral concerns are involved in using social credit systems; [4] comparative: how different is China’s Social Credit System from Western social scoring systems; and [5] normative: what should be the tests to distinguish between just and unjust systems. In general, the project seeks to underscore utopian and dystopian directions for future development of citizenship.

Recent Events, Publications & Output

RSC Working paper: A Dystopian Future? The Rise of Social Credit Systems