Sunday, January 24th, 2021

China’s ‘Social Credit’ System Assigns Credit Scores to Citizens Based on Govt Loyalty

Published on December 19, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

No regime, however ruthless its leaders, vast its ambitions, or extensive its resources, can tyrannize its subjects without their active cooperation. Every police state ultimately requires the public to regiment themselves–and each other. In the age of social media, successful totalitarians will have to crowd-source state coercion — and China’s new “social credit” system, which will encompass that country’s entire population in 2020, is pioneering an approach that, if successful, will inevitably spawn imitators in the West.

“The Chinese government is building an omnipotent `social credit’ system that is meant to rate each citizen’s trustworthiness,” reports the BBC. Note well that this system doesn’t merely offer an assessment of creditworthiness — which is a measure of the relative risks to financial institutions that would lend money to that individual. Instead, an opaque clique of supervisors employs an abstruse algorithm to rate the individual’s social “worthiness,” as defined by his support for the government, its policies, and its objectives.

“A social credit system is an important component … of the Socialist market economy system and the social governance system,” explained a June 14, 2014 “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System” issued by China’s State Council. “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 [and] an important method to perfect the Socialist market economy system.”

The chief objective of this system is to “strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and judicial credibility construction,” continues the Planning Outline. “Sincerity” in this context means much the same thing as “worthiness” — that is, deference to the country’s ruling elite, and at least a public display of enthusiasm for its schemes. Building “sincerity” is an important consideration during what the Chinese government calls “the assault phase of deepening economic structural reform and perfecting the Socialist market economy system.”

How can a comparatively minuscule ruling elite like the Chinese Communist Party exert control over hundreds of billions of consumers in a decentralized cyber-economy? In an essay for CNN, Rogier Creemers of Oxford University explains that China’s ruling elite “seeks to leverage the explosion in personal data generated through smartphones, apps and online transactions in order to improve citizens’ behavior” by expanding the concept of a “credit score” into an index of social “worthiness.”

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