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NEWS // China’s social credit scores

NEWS // China’s social credit scores

The Chinese government is mining the enormous amount of data that is available on its citizens. The objective is to create a social credit score for every Chinese citizen.

Nudging better behavior

Wired.com’s article says, “The goal is to nudge people toward behaviors ranging from energy conservation to obedience to the Party.” 

The State Council has signaled that under the national social credit system people will be penalized for the crime of spreading online rumors, among other offenses, and that those deemed “seriously untrustworthy” can expect to receive substandard services. 

Learning from business

China’s information gathering is linked to Ant Financial, the parent of a massive credit reporting agency named Zhima Credit. However, beyond assembling financial information on its citizens, the government appears to be aiming for a society divided along moral lines.  Zhima Credit is currently gathering information that “will ensure that the bad people in society don’t have a place to go, while good people can move freely and without obstruction.”

Zhima Credit tracks people in a variety of categories that extends beyond their finances. A category called Connections considers the credit of individuals people have in their social networks. Characteristics takes into consideration what kind of car people drive, where they work, and where they went to school. A category called Behavior scrutinizes the their activities as consumers. 

BusinenessInsider.com reports that a low social credit score means a person

  • won't be considered for public office
  • will lose access to social security and welfare
  • will be frisked more thoroughly when passing through Chinese customs
  • will be shut out of senior level positions in the food and drug sector
  • won't get a bed in overnight trains
  • will be shut out higher-starred hotels and restaurants and will be rejected by travel agents
  • will see their children excluded from more expensive private schools

By 2020 a nationwide government social credit system is slated to come online. The government has enlisted Baidu, a big tech company, to help develop its social credit database.

Sources: Wired.com; Business Insider