Across the United Kingdom, Credit Scores are used primarily as a function to enable whether a person can get a specific loan or credit card, potentially get a mortgage or set up certain bills or requirements. In China however, a new technologically advanced credit score system is being engineered that exists on a much broader scale.
The new system, known as Social Credit, is an implementation that works by focusing on a person’s routine behaviour in a bid to work out, and publicly present, a person’s trustworthiness.
The new technology will affect the country’s 1.4 billion citizens and presents a rather authoritarian nature from the Chinese Government, bringing unavoidable Orwellian surveillance to each and every citizen in a bid to ensure they behave to required standards.
While this sounds familiar, reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode Nosedive, this futuristic sounding dystopia is set to be a firm reality by 2020.
The main goal of the system has been noted to improve the Country, by offering better efficiency in the management of social order which leaves the Government Party firmly in charge of its people.
Thought to be the world’s largest social engineering project to date, the system will control and coerce over a billion people with no alternative option.
People who comply with social code, depict proper social standards and abide by social law, can benefit from perks, which include discounted energy bills and high social ratings. Those who do not comply however, can be refused purchase of train tickets, be blocked from certain websites (such as dating applications) and can be refused airline tickets to leave the country.
The Social Credit implementation, tracks citizens and rates them based on actions, but also includes the ranking and tracking of businesses and government officials, no stone, or in this case, person, is left unturned.
Creating the model citizen by digital dictatorship means that every single person will be under surveillance 24 hours a day. A large network of 200 million CCTV cameras make sure there is nowhere to hide and therefore nowhere to run from judgements.
The Chinese Communist Party believe the system will mean those who are morally correct and act as such, will benefit greatly from surveillance, and those who act unethically or exhibit behaviour outside of Government protocol won’t be able to escape punishment and/or consequence.
A pilot programme offers a personal score of up to 800 points. Top scoring citizens will receive VIP treatments at hotels, can receive cheaper loan repayments, can get into the best Universities and are even offered fast track routes into jobs and education platforms.
Lower scoring citizens however can be essentially blocked from society, being barred from certain establishments and unable to apply for certain jobs.
Not everybody starts on the same standpoint either, which can mean for some raising their score can prove to be a challenge. Government records, including medical and educational reports, along with financial status, are fed into the system and give citizens an overall starting score, which is already in development in over a dozen cities across China.
Your score can increase by bizarrely simple functions however, for example buying nappies in a local supermarket can suggest responsible actions, which in turn can see your rating go up. In the same sense, buying large amounts of alcohol can exhibit unwanted, irresponsible behaviour, which can see your score deplete.
Privacy is a premium part of Western culture, but the Chinese Government do not see privacy as a requirement of everyday life. Social Credit is designed to offer a safe and stable society that places higher value on certain individuals. The Party are using the technology as a way to regain some of the control they rapidly lost in the 1980’s after opening up to the world.
The Party want dominance over their people, and the ginormous social engineering project is a way to ensure absolute control. Already 10 million people have been punished in trail areas of Social Credit, seeing their ratings drop from actions such as smoking in a no smoking area, playing too many video games or posting something untrue on social media.
The exact methodology behind the system is being kept a secret but one thing is for sure, nothing will be private in China in the next two years. Actions such as being a bad driver could see your score deplete, which could mean punishments being put in place against you, such as your children not being able to get the best education.
Keeping your score as high as possible will be vital in the new system, a low score can lead to a citizen’s name being blacklisted, and this isn’t just by future employers, it’s available for everyone in China to see.
For those deemed trustworthy by the Government Party, life in 2020 China should, in theory, be as pleasant as ever. Just as long as citizens don’t throw an alcohol infused social gathering, or forget to indicate, or get into debt, because a score is forever subject to change.
It is still too early to tell how well the system will work, and how many citizens will be deemed trustworthy enough to enjoy Government induced benefits, but, in a world where Big Brother has all control, political agenda will always prevail.