Trust China to come up with something like this. Local governments in the communist country have come up with an altogether novel way of making sure that citizens desist from indulging in activities that are against the rules. Hangzhou’s local government is piloting a “social credit” system that will give the government some brand new, digital reins to keep its citizens in cheek.
Over three dozen governments in the country are now compiling a report on the credit-worthiness of their citizens. Interestingly enough, this report takes both social and financial behavior into considerations. So, basically, you have a certain score and this score gets reduced for activities like fare cheating,breaking traffic rulesand having more kids than what the government wants you to have and so on.
If the pilot proves to be successful, China’s ruling Communist Party will roll this system out across the nation by 2020 and draw upon a nationwide pool of data to assign scores to citizens. These scores would then be used to determine who gets preference in a hole bunch of scenarios — for instance, faster service in government offices and so on. The country will deploy an algorithm to control this system and assign credit scores, once the data pool gets big enough.
The aim of the system, according to the planning documents:
Allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.
Wow! China seems to have taken the concept of “Heaven on earth” far too seriously. The system is not without merit, it would encourage good behavior. However, it is too totalitarian and authoritative and the potential for misuse and mistakes is pretty high. Not that China is famous for the liberties it allows its citizens. In fact, the new scheme should fit in snugly with the blacklisting system — which is already operational.
The blacklisting system is part of the judiciary and if you make it into the list for one reason or other –you can be prevented from a lot of basic services — such as getting onto planes or high speed trains. You may also get a bad score for say, not visiting your parents often enough — which is required by Chinese law.
Well, it is still better than executing someone because their neighbors complained that they were taking part in liberal activities, or because their ideologies were non communist. And provided that it is used sparingly, it might get citizens to toe the line and inoculate better standards. However, it remains to be said that it would be much better if inspiration for being a good citizen comes from within.
However, China is not shy of using the stick if the carrot fails. The new digital system is the latest, highly powerful stick that will give the regime another way to control its citizens and create its own “Utopia”. An utopia where everyone behaves well because of fear of retribution certainly, but utopia nevertheless. The government is hoping to be able to roll the system out publicly by 2020.
Well, and some people here keep harping about demonetization as bad.