China’s proposal is like a credit score that could encompass your entire life, from work performance to Internet activity.
China’s proposals for a “social credit system” don’t seem that radical when you read the dry, official plan posted by the government last year. As befits circulars from a socialist regime, the language is aggrandizing but unspecific:
Accelerating the construction of a social credit system is an important basis for comprehensively implementing the scientific development view and building a harmonious Socialist society; it is an important method to perfect the Socialist market economy system, accelerating and innovating social governance, and it has an important significance for strengthening the sincerity consciousness of the members of society, forging a desirable credit environment, raising the overall competitiveness of the country and stimulating the development of society and the progress of civilization.
Within all that verbiage, however, is something very radical. China is proposing to assess its citizens’ behavior over a totality of commercial and social activities, creating an uber-scoring system. When completed, the model could encompass everything from a person’s chat-room comments to their performance at work, while the score could be used to determine eligibility for jobs, mortgages, and social services.
“They’ve been working on the credit system for the financial industry for a while now,” says Rogier Creemers, a China expert at Oxford University. “But, in recent years, the idea started growing that if you’re going to assess people’s financial status, you should equally be able to do that with other modes of trustworthiness.”
The document talks about the “construction of credibility”—the ability to give and take away credits—across more than 30 areas of life, from energy saving to advertising. “It’s like Yelp reviews with the nanny state watching over your shoulder, plus finance, plus all of these other things,” says Creemers, who translated the plan.
The system, overseen by the State Council, is made possible by two factors. One, it’s now possible to gather information about behavior as never before. As we use the Internet and different devices, we’re leaving behind a huge footprint of data. Second, the Chinese government sees no reason to safeguard its citizens’ data rights if it thinks that data can benefit them, says Creemers.
“In Europe and the U.S., there’s a notion that the state should be constrained, that it’s not right to intervene in people’s lives, unless for justified reasons. In China, the state has no qualms about that. It says ‘data allows us to make society for better, so we’re going to use it,'” he says.
The Latest on: Social credit system
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The Latest on: Social credit system
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- State Council moves to improve social credit systemon November 26, 2020 at 5:01 am
A State Council executive meeting has approved measures aimed at improving a mechanism against dishonest practices and perfecting China's social credit system. The meeting, presided over by Premier Li ...
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- China’s Social-credit System in America? Biden’s Budding Corporatocracyon November 19, 2020 at 11:45 am
Watch what you say, and don’t dare hold opinions offending the Machiavellian minions. For the consequence may be that you can’t send email, transfer money, sell a book, rent an apartment, or make a ...
- Woke Capitalism’s US Social Credit Systemon November 8, 2020 at 4:00 pm
From Live Not By Lies, about how China uses its social credit system to compel conformity: In theory, police don’t have to show up at the suspect’s door to make him pay for his disobedience.
- China’s New Social Credit Systemon October 31, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Despite hyped concerns in the foreign press, little is actually known about China’s plans to rate citizens and firms. Last summer, China released an outline of its new social credit system ...
- What It's Like To Be On The Blacklist In China's New Social Credit Systemon October 31, 2020 at 10:23 am
China is piloting a new social credit system, calculated from financial transactions and daily behavior. NPR's The Indicator learns what it's like to be on the country's list of untrustworthy people.
- China Tests A 'Social Credit Score'on October 30, 2020 at 10:00 pm
GARCIA: The Social Credit system is not scheduled to be rolled out nationally until 2020, but we got a glimpse into how it might work because China is testing out versions of it in pilot cities ...
- Girl Scouts surrender to unfair social media backlashon October 30, 2020 at 7:11 am
In Communist China, the use of a “Social Credit System” where China ranks “Good” and “Bad” citizens with a “Social Credit Score” is being used to publicly shame their citizens into ...
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