In 2014, the Chinese government announced the implementation by 2020 of a national social credit system. Drawing in diverse data sets (financial credit scores, purchasing activity, court records, other behavioral information), the planned system will have objectives to regulate businesses as well as the behavior of citizens. Some of the early implementations of the system have started to take effect (the Wall Street Journal reported that the system has generated as many as 7 million punishments), and we’re beginning to see some stories of the impact these blacklists are having on people’s lives. These stories raise comparisons to dystopian narratives like 1984 and episodes of Black Mirror so often it has become a cliché, but cliché or not, the trends are alarming.
- Blacklists and redlists: How China’s Social Credit System actually works [TechNode] “Many obstacles curb the implementation of a fully-fledged national system, including inadequate technology, insular mindsets among government ministries that jealously guard their data, and a growing awareness of the importance of privacy among China’s educated urban class.”
- China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system — here’s what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you (Business Insider) “Like private credit scores, a person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behavior. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.”
- Spend “frivolously” and be penalized under China’s new social credit system [Vox] “Given how interlinked morality, debt, and credit are in the United States, some of the concerns about China’s new social credit score comes across as disingenuous. Although the system certainly raises alarms — Human Rights Watch is concerned about it, after all — the idea that the US credit system operates much more equitably is shortsighted.”
- What It’s Like To Be On The Blacklist In China’s New Social Credit System [NPR] “One morning when Lao Duan was driving through the center of town, he discovered another aspect of being on the untrustworthy list. On one of the electronic billboards by the side of the road was his face.”
From the Ohio Web Library:
- Larson, Christina. “Who Needs Democracy When You Have Data?” MIT Technology Review, vol. 121, no. 5, Sept. 2018, pp. 50–55.
- Ra, Adam. “Eradication of Dissent: China Shows the Way to Pacify Humanity.” Adbusters, no. 137, May 2018, p. C35.
- Stern, Marlow. “‘Black Mirror’ Creator Charlie Brooker on China’s ‘Social Credit’ System and the Rise of Trump.” Daily Beast (New York), 27 Oct. 2016, p. 4.