China’s Social Credit System

In 2020, China is aiming to introduce a ‘Social Credit System’ that assesses its citizens’ and businesses’ economic and social reputation or also known as credit.

The aim of the social credit system is reinforce the idea that “Keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful” according to a Chinese government document. 

A person’s credit score can fluctuate depending on their behaviour. Things that will influence your score include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking areas, posting fake news online and buying too many video games. 

If your social credit ranking goes below a certain level you will start to receive punishments and sanctions. These include banning you from flying or getting the train, slowing down internet speed, banning you or your kids from the best schools, stopping you from getting the best jobs, banned from the best hotels, getting your dog taken away and being publicly named as a bad citizen. 

Citizens with a higher social ranking will start to receive benefits such as getting discount on bills, rent things without deposits, better interests rates from banks and China’s biggest dating site will boost your profile to receive more matches.

The social credit system that China are looking to implement has been compared to rating systems in the United Kingdom. The Disclosure and Barring Service Database in the UK collects data on citizen’s credit scores, phone usage and rent payment which filters job applicants, determines access to social services and determines advertisements served.

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the system, whether it is an invasion of privacy by the government and an excuse to mass surveil the country’s population. However, there are Chinese citizens that think the social credit system is a good idea or so they say it is. When the system was tested in one area of the country, one citizen stated “I feel like in the past six months, people’s behaviour has gotten better and better. For example, when we drive, now we always stop in front of crosswalks. If you don’t stop, you will lose your points. At first, we just worried about losing points, but now we got used to it.”

Personally I wouldn’t want to be part of a social credit system, but it will be interesting to see how it works out once it has been implemented in a couple of years. It does have the potential to improve social behaviour but I think the whole system is massively flawed as it will force citizens to act a certain way because they are worried about being sanctioned as opposed to them acting that way naturally, which would ultimately be the desirable outcome.

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