Ideas on Data, Law and Society – “Social Credit” – April 12, 2019

Government “Social Credit” Scores for Individuals in China and the West: Smarter Governance or Social Control?

On Friday, April 12 (12:10 – 1:15 p.m.), Professor Larry Catá Backer, W. Richard and Mary Eshelman Faculty Scholar, Professor of Law and International Affairs, Penn State Law School will join the Moritz community in Room 344 for a Data Points presentation. Register here!

Lenders have for many years employed credit scores to assess individuals and the level of risk that they pose. Today, governments are adopting “social credit” scoring systems that serve a similar function.

Social credit itself refers generally to a new mode of data-driven governance through which data analytics are used to create and operate algorithms that provide a basis for rewards and punishments for targeted behaviors. More specifically, it references the specific project of the Chinese state to create a comprehensive legal and regulatory mechanism grounded in data-driven metrics that they have named “social credit.”  The phenomenon is not limited to China, however.  In the West as well, data-driven governance systems are transforming the regulatory landscape.

In this presentation, Professor Larry Catá Backer will discuss this new form of data-driven social governance. He will examine the implementation challenges that it faces and will consider the resonances of China’s social credit initiatives in the West. He will explore whether accountability regimes grounded in behavior standards enforced through data-driven analytics may soon change the focus of public law from constitution and rule of law to analytics and algorithm.