Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | Published on Verfassungsblog, Debate «China‘s Social Credit Sysrem» | June 2019
I agree with Wessel Reijers that social scoring systems limit political freedom and instrumentalise citizenship to impose social control. While technologies have always been used for political ends, the latest technologies relying on big data and complex algorithms offer uniquely powerful and highly effective tools to survey people, quash dissent, and reinforce an authoritarian rule. What is new is a wide appeal of technologies as ‘fixes’ for pressing social and political issues. Building on their ‘success’ in commercial sectors (banking and marketing), predictive algorithms and scoring systems are enthusiastically adopted by governmental agencies throughout the world to help making decisions in areas such as criminal justice, welfare, and border control. The Chinese Social Credit scheme is nevertheless unique because of its ambition to aggregate data from a wide variety of sources to provide a set of prescriptive algorithms for “good citizenship” that is backed by state coercion.
Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | Published in R. Bauböck (ed.), Debating Transformations of National Citizenship, IMISCOE Research Series | 2018
In his thought-provoking kick-off contribution, Liav Orgad (1) enthusiastically embraces the idea of a global digital citizenship that could remedy some of the deficiencies of the present system of territorial national citizenships and, potentially, transform the meaning of democratic citizenship. Technologies such as blockchain could allow people to create virtual communities based on shared interests and sustained by instantaneous consent, beyond the reach of nosy governments and regardless of national borders. By widening access to rights, expanding political voice and creating more secure and diverse identities, digital citizenship could address current challenges related to the imperfect attribution of status and rights (statelessness, disenfranchisement), widespread political apathy among citizens and artificial divisions created by national borders. To paraphrase the text of a famous cartoon: ‘on the internet nobody knows you are a foreigner’.
This is a stark example of using informational tools and online data to control citizens’ access to rights and benefits- according to the principle “once untrustworthy, always restricted”.
Source: China to bar people with bad ‘social credit’ from planes, trains
Costica Dumbrava | A citizen with a view | March 2018
Adam: Have you watched the news?
Eve: Oh! Poor children…
Adam: Imagine, all three of them had genetic mutations that would have prevented them from living worthy lives.
Eve: Lucky fat guy!
Adam: Well, good that the trolley was connected to the Central Unit. Who else would have been able to tell?
Eve: Yet, poor children!
Costica Dumbrava |Contribution to GLOBALCIT Forum: Cloud Communities: The Dawn of Global Citizenship? | 2 March 2018
Technologies such as Blockchain could allow people to create virtual communities based on shared interests and sustained by instantaneous consent, beyond the reach of nosy governments and regardless of national borders. By widening access to rights, expanding political voice and creating more secure and diverse identities, digital citizenship could address current challenges related to the imperfect attribution of status and rights (statelessness, disenfranchisement), widespread political apathy among citizens and artificial divisions created by national borders. To paraphrase the text of a famous cartoon: ‘on the Internet nobody knows you are a foreigner’. Continue reading
WIRED: Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens
The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. The aim? To judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents
Big data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens | WIRED UK
Costica Dumbrava | Technologies of collecting, sharing and analysing information have become central to contemporary policies of migration, border management and citizenship. In Europe and elsewhere, the establishment and gradual expansion of information databases, together with the deployment of a complex operational infrastructure for data collection, information sharing and risk analysis, plays an increasing role in managing migration and in determining access to key membership rights (entry, asylum, stay and freedom of movement). Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava|Published in: Citizenship and Technology, Oxford Handbook of Citizenship
The genetic revolution triggered by the discovery of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and bolstered by the recent mapping of all human genes (the Human Genome Project) has raised hopes about treating diseases, improving life, and even defeating death. However, the rapid development of genetic technologies also prompted concerns about the ‘geneticization’ of social life, as human behaviour and social interactions are increasingly viewed through the lens of genetics. The worry is that population genomics studies will contribute to legitimizing and ‘naturalizing’ inequality and to the designation of new vulnerable groups based on arbitrary patterns and statistical correlations. Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava | Published in: Reproducing the nation: reproduction, citizenship and ethno-demographic survival in post-communist Romania. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Controlling populations has become central to the political rationality of the modern state . Post-war demographic interventionism has been largely disconnected from its earlier eugenicist goal of ‘improving the inborn qualities of a race’  and steered towards the provision of positive, non-coercive welfare incentives . Certain ‘crypto-eugenic’ features persisted, however, particularly in the global crusade to promote family planning as a means to counteract global overpopulation . While remaining diverse and driven by different goals, such as legitimising political power, attesting ideological superiority (communist/capitalist), and promoting social modernisation, post-war population policies were generally conceived of as ‘a driver of economic development and nation-building’ . Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava | Published in Verfassungsblog
Concerns about national, cultural and demographic preservation have become increasingly salient in the age of migrations and globalisation. Liav Orgad fittingly points to recent political reactions to the influx of refugees in Europe and to broader trends towards relinking citizenship and migration policies with concerns about national identity and cultural integration. He is right to complain about the reluctance among political theorists to engage systematically with these developments. I fully agree with Orgad that ignoring these issues is both “theoretically wrong” and “politically unwise”. However, I disagree that majorities have special majority rights that can be defended on the same normative basis as minority rights. I argue that if a current majority group is worried about its rights, it should genuinely support minority rights in anticipation of its future minority status. Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava | Published in: EUDO Citizenship Blog, European University Institute
In 2014 Estonia launched an e-residence scheme through which non-resident foreigners could obtain an Estonian digital identity card. The digital card allows people to access a series of digital services such as enabling them to create and use electronic signatures, launch and manage companies, do online banking, etc. The procedure for obtaining the card is quite simple. Apart from providing several standard items such as application form, national ID, and personal photo, the applicants must pay a fee (€50 in 2014) and submit a written explanation “concerning the intention to use the digital ID and the circumstance of its use”. If granted, the digital card will be issued within 15 days. The policy rationale for the Estonian e-residency card is economic. The emphasis is on encouraging entrepreneurship and attracting business by removing administrative barriers as well as bypassing migration regulations. By aiming to attract 10 million e-Estonians by 2025 in a country of 1.3 million citizens, the government seeks to boost Estonia’s competitiveness on the global market. This adds to other Estonian business friendly measures such as tax-free for profit reinvestment and championing digital services. Notwithstanding the economic merits of the e-residence scheme, it is worth exploring its implications for citizenship. Is e-residence a membership status? Could e-residence trigger claims of membership as physical residence usually does? Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava |Published in: EUDO Citizenship Forum, European University Institute
This debate on citizenship and assisted reproduction technologies has been a fascinating one and has succeeded in unravelling some of the major issues about the past, present and future of ius sanguinis citizenship. I was delighted to see that many of the contributors shared my concerns about the failings of the current system of transmission of citizenship from parent to child. I learned a great deal from reading the various reactions to my deliberately provocative propositions. With these concluding remarks, I use the privilege of the last word to engage with several key points emerging from the debate and to clarify and, as much as possible, elaborate my position. However, I am hopeful that this debate does not finish here and I look forward to continuing through other ventures. Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava | Published in: EUDO Citizenship Forum, European University Institute
The transmission of citizenship status from parents to children is a widespread modern practice that offers certain practical and normative advantages. It is relatively easy to distribute legal status to children according to parents’ citizenship, especially in the context of high mobility where the links between persons and their birthplace are becoming increasingly strained. Granting citizenship status to children of citizens may also be desirable as a way of avoiding statelessness, acknowledging special family links and fostering political links between children and the political community of their parents. These apparent advantages of ius sanguinis citizenship are, however, outweighed by a series of problems. Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava | Published in: EUDO Citizenship Blog, European University Institute
The next day after acquiring Romanian citizenship, Irina Tarasiuc – a singer from the Republic of Moldova – wrote on the social network Facebook: “For me the Romanian passport only stands for a visa, and not for citizenship. It is just an instrument for being mobile. I am Moldovan.” Tarasiuc acquired Romanian citizenship through a facilitated procedure that concerns former citizens (and descendants) who lost Romanian citizenship on reasons independent of their will. Her comment triggered a series of heated reactions on social media and in press; e.g. the Facebook group Irina Tarasiuc fara “viza”! [Irina Tarasiuc without “visa”!]. A number of formal requests to strip the singer of Romanian citizenship were submitted to the National Authority for Citizenship. As reported by the newspaper Gandul, the National Authority for Citizenship acknowledged these requests and began a formal procedure in this respect. Continue reading
Costica Dumbrava | Published in: Citizenship in Southeast Europe, University of Edinburgh
After the fall of the communist regime, Romania adopted legal provisions regarding the facilitated re-acquisition of citizenship by former citizens and their descendants. According to the 1991 citizenship law, former citizens who “have had their citizenship withdrawn against their will or for other reasons not imputably to them” could reacquire Romanian citizenship without having to renounce other citizenship(s) or take up residence in the country. These provisions aimed at restoring Romanian citizenship particularly to former citizens and their descendants who inhabited the territories lost by Romania in 1940, namely Bessarabia, now the Republic of Moldova, Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia, now part of Ukraine. This policy has attracted important criticism from various domestic and external stakeholders, including possible beneficiaries, governments of neighbouring countries and European politicians. Overtly passionate arguments and a search for sensationalism seem to dominate the debates about the restoration of Romanian citizenship, thus obscuring the complex purposes and implications of the policy. In this short piece, I point out various justifications of this policy and underline several of its major implications. Continue reading