The Rule of Law 'By Design'?
39 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2021 Last revised: 10 Aug 2021
Date Written: 2021
Can technology be deployed to promote, or even guarantee, the rule of law? Can the rule of law be designed into technological systems? The idea of achieving legal objectives through technology ‘by design’ is not new. However, it has been vividly revived in debates around systems such as blockchain, which has been proclaimed as the ‘killer app for corruption’. Other technologies have been used 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 thus is increasingly presented as a tool for fostering rule of law values – a rule of law ‘by design’. In this paper we ask whether technological solutions that embed rule of law values do in fact promote the rule of law. Using case studies and analysing current developments, we explore the extent to which the promise of technologies as a means of delivering on the rule of law hold up in practice and what they mean for the idea of a society ruled by law.
Keywords: Public Law, Rule of Law, Government, Constitutional Law, AI, Algorithms, Blockchain, Administrative Law, China, Surveillance, Technology Law, Privacy, Data Protection, Social Credit System, Credit Scoring, Automation, Decision-Making, Comparative Law, Machine Learning, Transparency, Accountability
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