Imagine the sum of your existence shrunk to a score that is constantly being updated and affects every area of your life –your social and economic status, access to better schools and employment, a nicer apartment, access to newer rental cars, and even friendships. You might laugh it off and point out you have seen this one in that “Black Mirror” episode. . .
Like so many things in China, the Chinese government took a perfectly innocent western idea, modified it to fit China’s needs with Chinese characteristics, and turned it into an Orwellian surveillance tool. Sebastian Heilmann, who coined the term “digital Leninism,” describes China’s social credit system as “a completely new perspective on regulating not just the economy and market, but also society. It’s really comprehensive, big data enabled, for both regulations and surveillance.”
The idea of China’s social credit system was first announced in 2014. Various Chinese cities and provinces have already rolled out their own pilot programs. Every Chinese citizen will be subjected to the mandatory social credit system in 2020, when a nationwide system is operational.
The Chinese government stated that the social credit system “uses encouragement to keep trust and constraints against breaking trust as incentive mechanisms, and its objective is raising the honest mentality and credit levels of the entire society … commend sincerity and punish insincerity.” Based on this, we know that unlike western credit bureaus, which mainly collect financial information, China’s social credit system is intended to mold Chinese citizens collectively into “good” people who follow a “moral” code of conducts sanctioned by China’s communist government. . .
Every behavior you can think of is currently being tracked by more than 200 million surveillance cameras that use facial recognition technology. By 2020, when China rolls out the social credit system nationwide, China is expected to have 626 million surveillance cameras installed. According to South China Morning News, “China is developing a facial recognition system that can match faces to a database of 1.3 billion ID photos in seconds, with a target of achieving 90 per cent accuracy.” (Read more from “China Is Rolling out the Most Massive Population Surveillance System in the World” HERE)