Aakanksha Mathur | 30 April, 2018 | MeriNews
China’s new “social credit scheme” which becomes mandatory for all citizens by 2020 is designed to involuntarily rate people based on their “commercial sincerity”, “social security”, “trust breaking” and “judicial credibility”.
But what does that imply for the 1.4 billion strong Chinese population? Well, almost 11 million Chinese are no longer allowed to fly and another 4 million are barred from taking a train owing to their low personal scores. Come next week, the programme will be implemented nationwide.
According to the Chinese government, its a system to “purify” society by rewarding trust-worthy people while at the same time punishing those who are not, says a report from CBS News.
Much unlike Credit Information Bureau of India Limited (CIBIL) score which we Indians are familiar with, this new Chinese social credit score system covers a much wider scope like whether you pay your taxes on time, follow traffic rules and even on what you post online. This means that trolling someone on Twitter could severely harm your score.
Liu Hui, a journalist by profession, was recently denied an air ticket because his name featured in the list of untrustworthy people. He was asked by a court to apologize for a series of tweets that he had made and later told that his apology had been rejected on the grounds of sincerity.
“I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school. You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time,” Liu was quoted by CBS News as saying.
While getting involved in community service and buying domestically manufactured products can increase your score, indulging in acts like fraud, tax evasion and smoking in public make it drop. A low social credit score translates into the fact that you are banned from let alone buying plain or trains tickets, even a high-speed internet connection.
What makes this social credit rating system work is China’s robust network of an estimated 176 million surveillance cameras which the country plans to increase to 600 million by 2020.
In fact, in several big cities of China like Shanghai, cameras are used for tracking and catching hold of jaywalkers. The cameras first record the offence and then the recording is played on the nearby video screen to publicly shame the offender.
However, the downside of this behaviour monitoring system is that is can be abused by the government, feels Ken DeWoskin, who has studied China’s economic and political culture for over three decades.
“Well, I think that the government and the people running the plan would like it to go as deeply as possible… to determine how to allocate benefits and also how to impact and shape their behaviour,” DeWoskin told CBS News.
Not minding the collateral damage, since you were born in a communist country, being rated “trustworthy” by the government does come with fringe benefits like lower bank interest rates, discounts on energy bills and also that China’s largest online dating site reportedly even boosts the profiles of people with good credit scores.