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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.