A dystopian rating program to create perfect citizens
China is rolling out a social credit scoring system that rates your trustworthiness far beyond that of your financial credit score, with a massive helping hand from high-tech and big data.
In China, government agencies and private companies are collecting enormous amounts of data about e.g. an individual’s finances, social media activities, credit history, health records, online purchases, tax payments, legal matters, and people you associate with in addition to images gathered from China’s 200 million surveillance cameras and facial recognition software. This data is aggregated by the government with the aim of determining the reliability of businesses and individuals.
In case of high ranking, an individual is entitled to different advantages, for example discounts on bills, better travelling solutions, free medical exams. On the other hand, a person with a low social credit may not be able to buy travel tickets or to enroll his children in school.
Some figures from the Annual Chinese Report
According to the new annual report, last year over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist, banning them from a series of activities.
About 17.46 million “discredited” people were restricted from buying plane tickets and 5.47 million were restricted from purchasing high-speed train tickets.
A total of 3.51 million untrustworthy individuals and entities repaid their debts or paid off taxes and fines last year due to pressure from the social credit system.
Nevertheless, human rights advocates worry that this system does not take into account singular circumstances and often unfairly labels individuals and firms as untrustworthy.
According to most Europeans and Americans, this new technologic surveillance approach is terrifying. Instead, some other people (80% of Chinese interviewed on this topic) believe that this use of technology promotes a good citizenship. Which side are you on?