Imagine if your Uber rating controlled your life.
It dictated whether you could get on a plane, what room you got at a hotel, if you could sign up to a dating app, your access to bank loans….
That’s basically what’s happening in China right now, except it’s called a “social credit system.”
You can listen to the Quicky’s episode on China’s social credit system here. Post continues after podcast.
The new technology brought in by the country’s Communist Party is literally tracking the population’s every move, and deducting or adding points depending on their behaviour.
The party claims it will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the ‘discredited’ to take a single step.”
It’s like a personal score card for each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens, and for some it’s great – and they’ve reported feeling more ‘safe’ since the system’s introduction.
However for others, the consequences are dire.
So, what is the system checking?
There are dozens of different trials happening around the country. In some, individuals have a score out of 1000, for others it’s 800.
You lose or gain points depending on what you do, who you associate with, where you visit, and what you buy.
Digitally, the government is tracking their financial credit with the bank, what they’re doing on their smartphone, who they talk to on the phone and what websites they visit.
Residents have been hired in neighbourhoods to effectively spy on their community. They write down any bad deeds they witness, and pass the information over to government staff who subtract points depending on the ‘deed.’
There are 200 million CCTV cameras set up across the country monitoring the Chinese population’s every step.
They’re watching for if people J-walk, buy too much alcohol, put the wrong things in their shopping trolley. Basically anything not considered ‘good.’
There’s even a trial underway for pet owners, checking animals are being treated correctly.
What happens if you lose too many points?
If you lose too many points, there are certain ways residents can gain them back quickly – they can volunteer, donate to charity or give blood.
When your points are too low, it can can quite literally, as the Community Party warns, make it hard to take a “single step.”
Some of the punishments include not being able to travel and being stopped from buying rail or airline tickets.
Scores and behaviour can be printed onto public boards for the whole community to see.
You would be removed from certain dating apps or platforms.