‘Social-Credit System’ Is Turning All of China into A Virtual Prison

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Chinese people who have low social-credit scores are harassed and ostracized through warnings about them on their cell-phone ring tones, which everyone can hear. They are subject air-travel bans, excluded from well-paying jobs, barred from owning a car or home, and publicly identified on a ‘Deadbeat Map’. Their social-credit system is slated to go nationwide in 2020. The effect will be a culture of fear and a nation of informants, because individuals can earn positive points by snitching. The Chinese Communist Party has given birth to the world’s first high-tech digital dictatorship and now it is selling its system to other like-minded socialist dictatorships. Venezuela was its first customer. -GEG

Imagine calling a friend. Only instead of hearing a ring tone you hear a police siren, and then a voice intoning, “Be careful in your dealings with this person.”

Would that put a damper on your relationship? It’s supposed to.

Welcome to life in China’s “Social Credit System,” where a low score can ruin your life in more ways than one.

Say you arrive at the Beijing airport, intending to catch a flight to Canton 1,200 miles south. The clerk at the ticket counter turns you away because — you guessed it — your social credit score is too low.

Not only are you publicly humiliated in the ticket line, you are then forced to travel by slow train. What should have been a three-hour flight becomes a 30-hour, stop-and-go nightmare.

All because the government has declared you untrustworthy. Perhaps you defaulted on a loan, made the mistake of criticizing some government policy online or just spent too much time playing video games on the internet. All of these actions, and many more, can cause your score to plummet, forcing citizens onto the most dreaded rung on China’s deadbeat caste system, the laolai.

And the punishments are shocking. The government algorithm will go as far as to install an “embarrassing” ring tone on the phones of laolai, shaming them every time they get a call in public.

But an embarrassing ring tone, flight bans and slow trains are just the beginning of the dystopian nightmare that is now daily life in China for tens of millions of people.

A low social credit score will exclude you from well-paid jobs, make it impossible for you to get a house or a car loan or even book a hotel room. The government will slow down your internet connection, ban your children from attending private schools and even post your profile on a public blacklist for all to see.

According to Australia’s ABC News, the government has produced a “Deadbeat Map” via an app on WeChat, which shows a radar-style graphic identifying every laolai in the vicinity of the user.

“Tapping on a person marked on the map reveals their personal information, including their full name, court-case number and the reason they have been labeled untrustworthy. Identity-card numbers and home addresses are also partially shown,” ABC reported.

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