China’s introduction of a “social credit score” that will help the Communist Party monitor the loyalty and ensure the obedience of the country’s 1.4 billion people has already produced horror stories like ordinary citizens with no criminal history being banned from flying because they were caught jaywalking by the country’s network of surveillance cameras.
The score, which will soon be rolled out across China after first being implemented in the cities, aggregates data from a variety of government databases and other sources that have recently been enabled to share information on citizens’ activities. The score will help the government determine which citizens will receive access to social services, and which will be turned away.
And in a recent report by CBS New York, television journalists from the US interviewed one man who says his low social credit score is preventing his child from enrolling in a private school, among other majorly disruptive inconveniences. Journalist Liu Hu saw his score downgraded because of his social media posts. When the government demanded that Hu remove the posts and apologize, he immediately complied.
But the government ruled that Liu’s apology was insincere, and his low score remained. Now, Liu says, it’s his children who are being punished.
“I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” he said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”
With the advent of the social credit score, Chinese citizens can face potentially major punishments for small infractions like smoking in a non-smoking area. Likewise, they can see their scores rise for “patriotic” acts like buying Chinese-made goods instead of foreign imports.
The head of a company that builds surveillance equipment for the Chinese government explained to CBS how the country’s network of traffic cameras is now being repurposed to enforce its social credit score rules.