No sooner has Xi Jinping donned the mantle of “Paramount” Leader-for-life and ramped-up Internet censorship than the “social credit” system outlined in 2014 has been unleashed upon the Chinese public, with people now being barred from air travel or riding on trains if their “social credit” score is found to be lacking, under the “Once untrustworthy, always restricted” policy.
A few months ago, I ran a story about China’s new Sesame Credit-powered social rating system, with China’s answer to Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group Ltd. as one of its architects. The new Chinese social credit system merges individual credit and legal records and social media accounts, claiming to foster “sincerity culture” and “traditional virtues” to improve the honesty a creditworthiness of society as a whole.
If your “citizen ranking” sinks too low, you cannot travel, buy property, send your child to a good school or even eat at a nice restaurant. Every aspect of life factors in. Online shopping habits are traced, with certain purchases dragging down your score, such as video games. The government looks at your bills, your school records, whether you jaywalk and even whether you visit your parents enough. Your social media accounts are checked for any form of dissent. Your score can tank, cutting you off from your life if your enter the wrong numbers while paying a court fee, as Chinese journalist, Liu Hu found out, according to 9News in Australia.
The final version of this scoring system is set to be implemented in 2020. It will relay real-time data reports to government officials, law enforcement and maybe to certain private citizens. Law enforcement is currently testing eye glasses with advanced facial recognition software that pull data from national databases, to instantly recognize criminals or political dissidents and which could conceivably be plugged into this social credit system.
This is not an Orwellian freak show reserved for an increasingly repressive Communist state. A Sesame Credit-type Carrot Rewards app was already been rolled out in Canada, in what James Corbett calls a “merger of behavioral science, gaming and government.”