Is an dystopian world on the horizon, or are we already living in one? This is a question you might need to ask yourself after learning about the system China seeks to implement by the year 2020.
A futuristic vision of Big Brother is already underway in the Communist country, where the government is developing a Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The SCS would be based off your everyday activities: how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; what bills you pay and which ones you ignore; where you shop in-person and online; what you buy and what you discard, etc…
Already, data of this kind is being monitored via Google, Facebook, Instagram and health-tracking apps. With the SCS system, however, one’s behavior could implicate their status as a citizen — and that is concerning. Based upon behavior, the government would give you a Citizen Score telling people whether or not you are trustworthy. Not only would this number be available publicly, the rating would determine your eligibility for a mortgage, a job, and even where your children go to school.
According to Wired, the Chinese government is passing off the idea as a desirable way to measure and build “trust” nationwide, to create a culture of “sincerity. The policy states: “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”
Not everyone is enthusiastic about the possibility. Said Johan Lagerkvist, a Chinese interest specialist who works at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs: “It is very ambitious in both depth and scope, including scrutinising individual behaviour and what books people are reading. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist.” And Rogier Creemers, who specializes in Chinese law and governance at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University, compared the social credit system to “Yelp reviews with the nanny state watching over your shoulder.”
Despite being controversial, the plan is already under way. So far, the Chinese government has given a license to eight private companies to develop systems with algorithms for social credit scores. Unsurprisingly, data giants are developing the most successful projects.
For now, participating in the SCS is voluntary. But within three years, it will be mandatory. Whether people like it or not, the behavior of every single person will be tracked, rated and ranked.
The Effects of Low Scores
This new system should raise eyebrows, as it represents a new paradigm shift. Rather than try to enforce stability through fear of reprimand, the government is now trying to make citizenship feel like gaming. As Wired reports, the method of social control is confused as a point-reward system. And, you can bet the penalties of being “untrustworthy” are harsh.
In September of 2016, the State Council General Office updated its policy entitled “Warning and Punishment Mechanisms for Persons Subject to Enforcement for Trust-Breaking.” It details penalties that will be rolled out when the government system becomes mandatory in 2020. The document states, “If trust is broken in one place, restrictions are imposed everywhere.”
People with low ratings can expect slower internet speeds, restricted access to restaurants, nightclubs or golf courses, and restrictions on traveling abroad. Low scores will also influence rental applications, as well as the ability to get a loan or even social-security benefits.
Though the Chinese government states the SCS will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” others see it for what it is: a prison.
I am Luke Miller, content manager at Truth Theory and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here