Social Credit: China’s Digital Dystopia In The Making
Leave No Dark Corner: In China, advances in technology are making surveillance techniques more and more sophisticated. Now, even a citizen’s most trivial actions can affect their freedom.
“If people keep their promises they can go anywhere in the world, and if people break their promises they won’t be able to move an inch”, says Cong Jie of credit system Alipay. Facial recognition, security cameras and mobile apps are permitting monitoring of citizens’ every move, using their actions to calculate a ‘score’ based on their perceived merits. Criminal, academic and medical records, even what you buy at the supermarket, are all taken into account. Purchasing alcohol reduces your score, whilst buying nappies increases it. Fan Dandan believes it’s the natural progression of the Party’s policies. “I think it’s always been there”, she says. “Now it’s just in a more efficient format.” Yet injustices appear prevalent. Investigative journalist Liu Hu has found himself labelled ‘dishonest’ and his rights restricted for no apparent legitimate reason. It began after he exposed a corrupt politician. “There are a lot of people who are on the blacklist wrongly”, he says, “but they can’t get off it”. Reports of racial profiling and unfounded detainment abound, raising serious questions about the motivations behind this new age of totalitarianism.