China's creepy new social engineering system will measure how obediently citizens follow the "party line." It works like a credit score and citizens will get "points" for posting positive messages about the government, buying Chinese products, etc. Citizens will also get demerits for things like posting links about problems with the economy or government corruption. High scores will get you special treatment from the government, banks and retail outlets; low scores may leave you in slum housing. China has "partnered" with the nation's largest social networks and retail sites so it can track and manipulate the behavior of everyone. Americans should expect all the personal info gathered by the National Security Agency will one day be used in the same way.—Ronald David Jackson
|Photo by Eduard V. Kurganov.|
China To Use Big Data To Rate Citizens In New 'Social Credit System'
By Michelle FlorCruz
How good a citizen are you? China hopes to answer that question for every one of its citizens with a numerical rating system based on their financial standing, criminal record and social media behavior. A new translation of the government’s plans for a so-called social credit system sheds light on how China aims to utilize "Big Data" to hold all citizens accountable for financial decisions as well as moral choices.
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China’s plans to roll out a citizen rating system has been in the works for years. Rogier Creemers, a China expert at Oxford University, recently published a translation of a document circulated through various levels of government detailing the six-year rollout of the program. According to a State Council notice, the central government hopes to have every adult in China assigned a credit code in addition to a government-issued identity card by 2020.
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“Accelerating the construction of a social credit system is an important basis for comprehensively implementing the scientific development view and building a harmonious Socialist society,” the memo reads, adding that it has “important significance for strengthening the sincerity consciousness of the members of society.” The "guiding ideology," the name of a subsection in the memo, states that a key principle of the system is "government promotion."
While using financial, Internet and other data to evaluate individuals is not a new phenomenon, China will likely be the first nation to do it publicly and have the systematization and rationalization for doing so down to a numerical index. In an interview with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Creemers draws similarities to the former East German system but says the Chinese are taking it even further.
“The German aim was limited to avoiding a revolt against the regime. The Chinese aim is far more ambitious: It is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen,” Creemers said in the interview, explaining that the program will incentivize specific behavior. “This is a deliberate effort by the Chinese government to promote among citizens ‘socialist core values’ such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard and avoiding extravagant consumption.”
In a more modern context, a closer comparison could be made with the U.S. National Security Agency's alleged data-mining project PRISM, which former CIA contractor Edward Snowden revealed as government access to user data at the country’s biggest tech firms like Google, Apple and Facebook. Whereas Silicon Valley execs denied knowledge of the data-mining scheme and said that if user information was being collected, it was without the companies’ knowledge, China wants its citizens to know they are being watched and that their standing in society will be affected by their behavior.
Unlike in the West, in China, cooperation between tech firms and the government is “symbiotic,” according to Creemer, and will likely continue when it comes to implementing the Social Credit System. “Government and big Internet companies in China can exploit ‘Big Data’ together in a way that is unimaginable in the West,” he said.