Scoring reputation

July 2019 News

A new law and policy forecasting report unveiled at the two-day Legal Innovation and Tech Fest takes a look at the potential legal implications of our rapidly evolving ‘reputation economy’, in which social standing is increasingly managed in the manner of a commodity or tradable currency.

Advocate Michael Laws.
Advocate Michael Laws.

The report, entitled ‘The Future of Reputation’, explores the possible ramifications of Consumer Reputation Scores which are widely used by various institutions. It is the first commentary to materialise from a new legal forecasting think tank initiated by Advocate Michael Laws and supported with research expertise from LexisNexis South Africa.

Speaking at the industry gathering in Sandton, co-sponsored by LexisNexis South Africa, the company’s product development manager for case law solutions, Louis Podbielski, introduced the forecasting project and the conversations it hopes to initiate about how we could and should plan for the future. Dubbed ‘Sivyl’, its name is a neologism of Civil Law and the Sibylline Oracles, which were divine revelations uttered by Greek prophetesses.

“Sivyl aims to produce comprehensive and persuasive insight reports that lay a basis for stimulating public discussion and debate, as well as engagement with leaders of business, government and civil society,” said Podbielski, adding that it was an honour to partner

with Advocate Laws in raising important questions and provoking fascinating ideas about how the law could potentially adapt for the future.

“At the heart of Sivyl’s first law and policy forecasting report are questions arising from our fast-changing understanding and experience of reputation. The report looks at the potential future regulatory or legislative policy choices that may need to be adopted and the likely effect on individuals and businesses, as social values and technology continue to evolve and reputation continues to play an ever-increasing role in our lives,” he said.

The Future of Reputation considers various consumer personas and scenarios, and imagines four possible futures or quadrants. These vary in terms of the degree to which the future market may be either pro-consumer or pro-business, as well as the extent to which a future government would be willing to intervene in the market and to regulate relationships and activities between service providers and customers. Legal frameworks such as the right to dignity, the law of contract, the law of delict and the right to equality are interrogated as they pertain to reputation.

Readers are introduced to Thandi, a corporate professional boasting a premium-grade score with her bank, who is now facing low points and reduced benefits after the acquisition of her bank by her healthcare provider. The consequences are devastating for Thandi, with no opt-out provision in her contract.

There is also the scenario of Kate, a triathlon athlete who has two Olympic gold medals, but gets exposed for using performance enhancement substances. This has major reputational and financial repercussions for her. Kate’s story is set in a future reputation economy in which the State has decided not to intervene legislatively and the market has naturally evolved to benefit business at the expense of consumers.

Then there is Emma, a professional who fails to disclose a pre-existing medical condition. In this pro-company scenario with State intervention, Emma is convicted of reputation fraud, fined significantly and ordered to carry out community service.

In the final pro-consumer scenario, also with State intervention, the report explores the tale of Sam, a former student and now young mother whose lack of a credit history and resulting poor reputation scores cause her to be overlooked for her dream job.

In considering the growing use of reputation as a commodity, Advocate Laws points to recent developments, such as the introduction of social credit systems in China, the rise of professional social media influencers and the corporations and businesses already consolidating all our personal data and using it to create consumer profiles.

He says that trend forecasting has become big business, but notes a gap in legal forecasting. “In an age where major industry incumbents are being disrupted by emerging technologies and trends to the point of crisis, there is a heightened demand both in the private and public sector for expert insight as to where the future may take us.”

LexisNexis CEO Billy Last said the exercise of forecasting is of increasing value in an age where AI is gradually making more of the decisions that impact on the life of others, than humans.

“With Legal Tech now central to LexisNexis’ business and our ongoing digital transformation of the last 25 years, forecasting these credible scenarios where the law and technology intersect, allows us to explore how the law may possibly evolve and to creatively imagine what the future may hold in store for LexisNexis and its clients,” he said.

The authors of the Future of Reputation report are LexisNexis content editors Asanda Namba, who also heads up the new LexisNexis SA Forecasting Think Tank project group, as well as Lungelo Gwala, Ivana Surian and Preneshan Pillay.

The full report can be downloaded at

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Obituary: Steven James Meyer
January 1957 - January 2022

Technews Publishing News
It is with deep sadness and shock that we announce the sudden death of SA Instrumentation & Control Editor, Steven Meyer. Steven joined Technews in October 2007 in the position of Deputy Editor. His ...

From the editor's desk: In the cyber trenches
Technews Publishing News
Hi-Tech Security Solutions is proud to launch its first Smart Cybersecurity Handbook, a publication aimed at making sense of the complex world of cyber risks.

Industrial control systems threat medley
According to Kaspersky ICS CERT report, almost one in three industrial computers globally was subject to malicious activity in the first half of 2021.

Social media censorship annual report
Africa is the most censorship-intensive region in the world when it comes to social media, with 10 countries shutting down social media this year.

Turnstar ramps up countermeasures
Turnstar Systems Editor's Choice Access Control & Identity Management News Products
Turnstar has developed and patented an early warning and deterrent system which will alert security, and anyone nearby, of any attempt to place ramps over the raised spikes.

Offshore cloud video surveillance system
Eagle Eye Networks CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring News Transport (Industry)
Eagle Eye Networks and TechBinder collaborate on offshore cloud video surveillance system for maritime sector, bringing real-time remote viewing and notifications to enhance vessel performance data and reporting

Suprema integrates biometric access control with Genetec
Suprema News CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Access Control & Identity Management
Suprema has announced the successful integration of its biometric access control products with Genetec Security Center, a unified security platform that connects security systems, sensors and data in a single intuitive interface.

IDEMIA South Africa achieves level 1 B-BBEE status
IDEMIA News Access Control & Identity Management
As part of the action plan to improve its status to Level 1, IDEMIA now works with over 40 black-owned local suppliers, representing over 30% of IDEMIA’s local suppliers.

Suprema no. 1 in the global biometric market excluding China
Suprema News Access Control & Identity Management
According to the latest report by Omdia, a global market research firm, Suprema ranks first in global market share, excluding China, in the field of biometric readers.

Dahua and Yeastar PBX-intercom integration
Dahua Technology South Africa News Access Control & Identity Management
Dahua Technology and Yeastar announced their new ECO partnership on PBX-intercom integration to provide a comprehensive and unified communication solution for small- and medium-sized enterprises.