Mapping the Digital Welfare State

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay under Pixabay Licence

Project leader(s)

Biometric technologies, as well as predictive algorithms and risk assessment models, are increasingly used as regulatory tools in the context of social assistance, often in the name of cost savings and fraud prevention. In 2019, the UN rapporteur on extreme poverty warned that doing so has enabled Big Tech companies to surveil the poor without appropriate accountability or regulation. Beyond the controversial Robodebt scandal in Australia, we know little about how these technologies operate in practice or how they affect recipients in everyday life.

This project thus asks: how are these different technologies informing practices and experiences of regulation? What are the implications for those in need of financial support and the actors tasked with delivery?

In answering these questions, this research aims to shed light on changing governance relationships in and across different jurisdictions. It examines the UNCHR’s Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) as well as social welfare and humanitarian aid practices in Australia, India, Lebanon and South Africa.

In addition, the project supports wider collaboration with scholars who are conducting research on practices in Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ghana, Kenya, Pakistan and Thailand.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay under Pixabay Licence


Dr Shelley Bielefeld

Before her employment at Griffith Law School as an ARC DECRA Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Dr Bielefeld was the Inaugural Braithwaite Research...

Image:Jenna Imad Harb (RegNet)

Jenna Imad Harb

Jenna Imad Harb is a PhD candidate at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Legal Studies and Business, as well as a Master’s degree in...

Image: Professor Kate Henne (RegNet)

Professor Kathryn Henne

Professor Kathryn (Kate) Henne is the Director of the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet). An interdisciplinarily trained scholar, she has a PhD in Criminology, Law and Society...


Dr Marie-Eve Loiselle

Prior to enrolling in her PhD, Marie-Eve was a research officer on the ARC linkage project ‘Strengthening the rule of law through the United Nations Security Council’ at...

Law, justice and human rights

RegNet is one of world’s leading centres for socio-legal research. This cluster aims to lead the development of transformative ideas in the fields of criminology and restorative justice; human rights and international law; legal pluralism; peacebuilding; the regulatory dimensions of international and domestic law; and rule of law.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet