The Transparent Self Under Big Data Profiling: Privacy and Chinese Legislation on the Social Credit System

Co-authors: Yongxi Chen & Anne Cheung

Published in The Journal of Comparative Law, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp. 356-378, 2018

Abstract: The article begins by mapping out the background to the construction of China’s big data social laboratory and the SCS. The next section examines the system’s social management aim and comprehensive sanction system, as well as its nature as a collaborate project between the authorities and the business sector. The section which follows then summarises the legislative history and evolving concept of social credit and analyses the nature of individuals’ rights to personal data protection under China’s uncoordinated legal framework. The article then reviews local social credit legislation with reference to the three cardinal principles of personal data protection most closely related to data subjects’ control over the processing of their data: firstly, the data collection principle,;secondly, the data usage principle, and thirdly, data subjects’ right to access and correct their own data. The final section concludes that although local legislation provides nominal rights of access to, and a few restrictions on, the collection and use of data, it has largely failed to secure meaningful control over personal data for individuals. These legislative defects relate to the very purpose of the SCS and to extra-legal restrictions inherited from the pre-reform party-state regime.

For more information, please refer to the HKU Legal Scholarship Blog: