China Ranks Citizens With A 'Social Credit System' And It's More Dystopian Than We Could Imagine

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It's been in the pipeline for several years: a technological mass surveillance network the likes of which the world has never seen. And it has already been switched on.

China Ranks Citizens With A 'Social Credit System' And It's More Dystopian Than We Could Imagine

It's been in the pipeline for several years: a technological mass surveillance network the likes of which the world has never seen. And it has already been switched on.


China's "Social Credit System" – expected to be fully operational by 2020 – does not only monitor the country's almost 1.4 billion citizens. It also is designed to control and coerce them, in a gigantic social engineering experiment that some have called the "gamification of trust".


That is because the massive project, that has been slowly coming together for more than a decade, is assigning an individual trust score to every citizen, as well as to businesses.


According to China's Communist Party, the system will "allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step".


The idea is that these ever-watchful eyes will be hooked up to facial recognition systems, and cross-checked with financial, medical records, and legal records.


Like private credit scores, an individual's social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret — but paradigms of infractions include dangerous driving, buying too many video games, smoking in non-smoking zones, and posting fake news online.


For positive personal and social acts – like paying bills on time, properly sorting your recycling, and engaging in charity, – citizens get their score bumped up. That gives them access to perks, like better credit facilities, cheaper public transport, and even shorter wait times for hospital services.


However, if you break the rules, beware:


1. People are being banned from flying or getting the train.


9.000.000 people with low scores have been prevented from buying tickets for domestic flights, Channel News Asia reported in March 2018, citing official statistics.


2. Internet speeds are throttled.


Credit systems monitor whether people pay bills on time and ascribe a moral dimension, according to Foreign Policy.


Other mooted punishable offenses include spending too long playing video games, wasting money on frivolous purchases and posting on social media.


Spreading fake news will also be a punishable offense.


3. Children are banned from the best schools.


Seventeen people that refused to carry out military service last year were banned from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies, according to Beijing News.


In July 2018, a Chinese university denied an incoming student his spot because the student's father had a bad social credit score.


4. People can't get the best jobs.


"Trust-breaking" people would also be banned from management jobs in state-owned firms and big banks.


Some crimes, such as fraud and embezzlement, would also have a significant effect on social credit, Botsman reported.


5. People are kept out of the best hotels.


People who refused military service were also banned from some holidays and hotels.


The regime rewards people here as well as punishes them.


According to Botsman, those with good scores can speed up travel applications to places like Europe.


6. Dogs are getting taken away from their owners.


The eastern Chinese city of Jinan began enforcing a social credit system for dog owners in 2017, whereby pet owners get points deducted if the dog is walked without a leash or causes public disturbances.


People who lost all their points had their dogs confiscated and had to take a test on the regulations required for pet ownership.


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Thinking Humanity: China Ranks Citizens With A 'Social Credit System' And It's More Dystopian Than We Could Imagine
China Ranks Citizens With A 'Social Credit System' And It's More Dystopian Than We Could Imagine
It's been in the pipeline for several years: a technological mass surveillance network the likes of which the world has never seen. And it has already been switched on.
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