Polarisation in Information Ethics: The Debates Between Privacy and Common Goods in the Chinese Social Credit System

Zhiwen Zheng, Babita Bhatt

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    This paper explores polarisation in information ethics through the case study of China’s Social Credit System (SCS), a data-powered, national reputation system which that aims to monitor, assess, and shape the behaviour of Chinese citizens and enterprises. Information ethics provides a normative framework to evaluate the role of technology in the development of a good society. However, the advent of big data has created polarisation on the ethical principles that should guide the storage, monitoring and tracking of big data. We situate this polarised debate in two ethical approaches: the common good approach and the individual liberty approach and apply the insights from these two approaches to SCS. The common good perspective views SCS as an important approach for cultivating good citizenship behaviour and promoting common good such as social stability and good governance. In contrast, the individual liberty perspective views SCS as a hindrance to individual autonomy and liberties. We discuss the implications of these findings using the ‘contextual integrity’ framework developed by Nissenbaum (Wash Law Rev 119(121):154–155, 2004; Privacy in context: technology, policy, and the integrity of social life. Stanford University Press, 2009) and suggest avenues for future research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationCauses and Symptoms of Socio-Cultural Polarization: Role of Information and Communication Technologies
    Editors Israr Qureshi, Babita Bhatt, Samrat Gupta, Amit Anand Tiwari
    Place of PublicationSingapore
    PublisherSpringer Singapore
    ISBN (Print)9789811652684
    Publication statusPublished - 2022

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