Undemocratic Means: The rise of the surveillance state

Peter Lehr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


In Chap. 11, I already raised the ‘what if’ question regarding the imagined slippery slope from liberal democracies to more authoritarian and far less liberal or democratic states. In this chapter, I show where this ‘what if’ journey towards ever more safety and security could eventually lead by discussing the Chinese government’s current plans to roll out a ‘Social Credit Score’ system that assigns each Chinese citizen an individual ‘social score’ – a score that can go up and down depending on their action and how ‘trustworthy’ they are. I argue that this total surveillance goes for beyond ‘nudging’ as employed in Western democracies, but that for those who score high, it actually does not look like surveillance but like a game – hence, we basically witness the ‘gamification’ of social control. I then compare these developments to surveillance measures already existing in the West and conclude that we are actually not that far removed from China’s version of Huxley’s ‘Brave New World.’

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameAdvanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications
ISSN (Print)1613-5113
ISSN (Electronic)2363-9466


  • Big data
  • Data-mining
  • Dragonfly eyes
  • Gamification of social control
  • Identification bias
  • Megvii Inc
  • Nudging
  • Skynet
  • Smart CCTV
  • Social credit system
  • Total information awareness


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