Rule of Law 'By Design'?

Can technology promote the rule of law? The idea of achieving legal objectives through technology ‘by design’ is not new but has been vividly revived in debates on systems such as blockchain or technologies to ‘modernise’ elections, with claims of improved transparency and reduced human error and fraud. Panoptic governance mechanisms such as China’s Social Credit System promise a perfectly predictable, consistent, and equal enforcement of the law. Technology is increasingly presented as fostering rule of law values – a rule of law ‘by design’. This paper asks whether technological solutions that embed rule of law values do in fact promote the rule of law. Using case studies of public administration and blockchain; running of elections and voting technologies; and law enforcement in the Chinese Social Credit system, I explore the extent to which the promise of technology to promote the rule of law hold up in practice and what they mean for the idea of a society ruled by law