Rule by Data and the Quest for Data Justice: Lessons from China’s Social Credit

Big data brings promises and perils. The US and EU have formulated various legal responses attempting to weed out the harm of big data analytics but harvest its benefits. The current legal concerns are largely on the harm of profiling, discrimination and misuse of personal data. This framework hinges on the identification of clear cases of data abuse and individual’s determination to seek legal redress. Scholars have advocated for data justice but without defining its content. In asking what a system of data justice requires to combat data abuse, China’s social credit system serves as a telling case study. This paper argues that the current legal frameworks are inadequate to cater the rising and all-encompassing dataveillance with ever evolving data analytics. A regime of data justice needs to address the increasing ties between public and private sectors, which data should not be re-combined and distributed, and how to achieve the aims of accessibility and accountability.