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China's controversial Social Credit system

In the mid-2010s, China announced a plan to implement a Social Credit System. The system, correlated by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is based to evaluate Chinese citizens on their social behavior.

People, as well at businesses and organizations, will be assessed on a rating system judging their trustworthiness. The system will evaluate people based on their lifestyle choices, behavior, and actions as according to a scoring procedure from their personal data whether online or offline.

How does the Social Credit System work?

As per the system, data is collected on individuals and various businesses to be analyzed and organized per the scoring system. The higher the scoring rate, the better perks and benefits you get. On the other hand, the lower the scoring rate, the higher consequences and punishments one is faced. The data is gathered from various sources, some being criminal records, financial records, interaction with online content, and more. Based on the gathered data and information, an analysis is performed on, for example, how an individual spends their money and how quickly they chose to spend it.

What are the implications of the Social Credit System?

As mentioned, the scoring rate determines the access an individual or business may have to additional factors and features of society. For example, an individual or organization with a considerable low score is categorized as untrustworthy and may face difficulties in pulling loans, buying property, buying plane tickets, and face lack of access to social services. On the other hand, those with a relatively higher score gain benefits when it comes to ease of maneuvering life. Examples ranging from free access to certain services, higher chances of pulling loans, and so on.

Where does the controversy come in place?

As one may expect, this method of surveillance led to debates and controversy from people all around the world. The extreme level of surveillance and monitoring is an unknown and unfamiliar factor to majority of society. From the looks of it, the extremity of the surveillance that can lead to dictate and shape an individual’s lifestyle and access to social features raises concerns relating to privacy. While the system may potentially be beneficial for the country in terms of increasing safety and security, it may be harmful in a sense that it can be considered as intrusive. The constant monitoring and invasion on members of society may lead to disdain and be uncomfortable for Chinese citizens. In addition, the introduction of the Social credit system has led to much fear, panic and shock from the West who fear that the system may inevitably be implemented in other regions of the world as well. 

However, it is crucial to note that the system is yet to be fully implemented in practice. For the majority of part, it has been mostly talking and words rather than indefinite action. Furthermore, the system, unlike what many perceive it to be, is not an extensive and methodological in its approach.

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