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China’s terrifying “social credit” surveillance system is expanding

China’s terrifying “social credit” surveillance system is expanding
[Photo: 1588877/Pixabay]

In the Black Mirror episode “Nosedive,” writers Rashida Jones and Michael Schur created a bleak world where everyone has a public rating system based on their social media ranking. The episode features Bryce Dallas Howard as a young woman who tries to improve her respectable 4.2 score to get better flight options and other perks. Things quickly spiral out of control–as they tend to do on Black Mirror.

Whereas most viewers saw that episode as a dystopian horror story, China apparently thought it was a great idea. By 2020, the country plans to give all its 1.4. billion citizens a personal score, based on how they behave, according to CBS News. The government started working on its so-called social credit system back in 2014, which ranks citizens on their trustworthiness, including whether they jaywalk, buy Chinese-made products, what they post online, and whether they smoke in nonsmoking areas. Those deemed trustworthy can get discounts on energy bills and better interest rates at banks, while those considered untrustworthy can reportedly be stopped from buying property and even high-speed internet.

The system works a bit like credit scores, but instead of being based on good or bad financial decisions, Chinese citizens are being scored on things like whether they pay their taxes on time to how they cross the street to what they post online, per CBS. As 2020 approaches, some with low scores are already feeling the effects of a low social credit score–nearly 11 million Chinese can no longer fly and four million are barred from trains.

Next week, the program will start expanding nationwide, and more citizens will start to feel the watchful eyes of Big Brother as China’s network of surveillance cameras grows to an estimated 600 million cameras.


Related: In locked-down Xinjiang, China is tracking kitchen knives with QR codes

 

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