Ant Financial introduced a universal credit score, where everybody in China is measured by how well you manage credit, and how well your political opinions are in line with Chinese official opinions, and even whether your friends’ are. Initially voluntarily, the system becomes mandatory in 2020 with sanctions for the ‘less obedient’.
China’s largest social networks have partnered with the country’s Communist government to create a credit score system that will measure how obedient its citizens are, a chilling prospect that could one day arrive in America if social justice warriors get their way.
Entitled ‘Sesame Credit’, the program, “Aims to create a docile, compliant citizenry who are fiscally and morally responsible by employing a game-like format to create self-imposed, group social control. In other words, China gamified peer pressure to control its citizenry; and, though the scheme hasn’t been fully implemented yet, it’s already working — insidiously well,” reports Zero Hedge.
Sesame Credit is operated by Alibaba and Tencent, two companies that run all the top social networks in China, including Weibo, which has over 200 million users. It works by measuring not only purchase and bill paying history but also “political compliance.”
“Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them,” warns the ACLU.
In other words, people will face the threat of not only becoming a target of state surveillance, but also losing their friends if they express political views frowned upon by the state. This social pressure would obviously make individuals far less likely to criticize the government or to counter a dominant social narrative. The credit scores can also be seen by anyone, adding the further burden of potential public shaming for controversial opinions.
Could such a system ever take off in America? For years, the Obama White House has been pushing cybersecurity initiatives that would mandate de facto government permission to use the Internet. Since web access would be linked with an individual user’s identify, it could easily be restricted if that individual dares to dissent against the state.
If the we continue to treat the feelings of perpetually offended outrage mobs with more importance than free speech – particularly controversial and unpopular free speech – there’ll be no need for governments to impose a social credit score to control citizens – we’re already imposing it on ourselves by default.
Sesame Scores are indications of the users’ creditworthiness, which range from 350 to 950 points. Users will be able to check their Sesame Scores both in the Alipay Wallet mobile app and through merchant websites that accept Sesame Credit services. The higher the scores, the lower chance the user may default. The scores are calculated using five different factors, each with different weightings that can vary according to individual profiles:
- Credit History reflects a user’s past payment history and indebtedness, for example credit card repayment and utility bill payments.
- Behavior and Preference reveals a user’s online behavior on the websites they visit, the product categories they shop, etc.
- Fulfillment Capacity shows a user’s ability to fulfill his/her contract obligations. Indicators include use of financial products and services and Alipay account balances.
- Personal Characteristics examine the extent and accuracy of personal information, for example home address and length of time of residence, mobile phone numbers, etc.
- Interpersonal Relationships reflect the online characteristics of a user’s friends and the interactions between the user and his/her friends.
In theory, Sesame Credit (and its benefits) is optional. So far. For the time being. But China has already announced that it, or something very like it, will become mandatory from 2020. It has also announced that while there are benefits today for obedient people, it intends to add various sanctions for people who don’t behave, like limited Internet connectivity. Such people will also be barred from serving in certain high-status and influential positions, like government official, reporter, CEO, statistician, and similar.
Things that will make your score deteriorate include posting political opinions without prior permission, talking about or describing a different history than the official one, or even publishing accurate up-to-date news from the Shanghai stock market collapse (which was and is embarrassing to the Chinese regime).
But the kicker is that if any of your friends do this — publish opinions without prior permission, or report accurate but embarrassing news — your score will also deteriorate. And this will have a direct impact on your quality of life.
“Sesame Credit, however, also uses other data to calculate the scores, such as a person’s hobbies, interaction with friends, shopping habits and lifestyle.” — Quote from China Daily Asia
This scheme is far more sinister than it seems at first, as you’re also getting assorted immediate privileges based on this credit score:
If your credit score reaches 600, you have the privilege of an instant loan of about $800 without collateral when shopping online.
At a score of 650, you may rent a car without leaving a deposit.
And at 750, you get a similar fast track to a coveted pan-European Schengen visa.
There are many more examples – these are just to illustrate.
Anybody can check anybody’s Chinese credit score today using the site Credit China, which helps – no, nudges – people to disconnect from friends and acquaintances who significantly draw down your own credit score merely by association: they’re listed as such. All 869,582 of them. While this Credit China rating is purely fiscal at present (but your friends’ score still affect your own score), the general idea will expand to this “social credit score” no later than 2020, according to the official directive.
Do you see what’s happening here? This means that people need to choose between that coveted European vacation and keeping in touch with their old friends who are disagreeing with the regime’s opinions openly. This means that staying in touch with dissidents will cause you and your family to lose out on social benefits. As a result, this will very effectively isolate and neuter anybody who posts unofficial political opinions or unofficial history facts. They’ll effectively be sent into social exile, based on everything they do, write, think, and discuss online.
What China is doing here is selectively breeding its population to select against the trait of critical, independent thinking. This may not be the purpose, indeed I doubt it’s the primary purpose, but it’s nevertheless the effect of giving only obedient people the social ability to have children, not to mention successful children.
People sometimes mock the notion that we’re not at a 1984 level yet. I wonder what it’ll really take to make such people realize that the 1984 point of surveillance has long come and gone.
Privacy remains your own responsibility.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the official directive (in English) to construct this Chinese “social credit score” by 2020. As commented on Hacker News, this Sesame Credit appears to be a trial for the official requirement. Link added inline to text above as well.
The slow-motion train wreck of “social credit” systems and the “gamification” of society has moved to the next stage. In 2018, the Chinese government began barring people from flying or riding trains if their social credit score is not up to snuff. China may be the test case for these ideas, but they’re already being rolled out in other countries. So what are we going to do about it?
Big Brother: The Orwellian Nightmare Come True – In Big Brother: The Orwellian Nightmare Come True, Mark Dice details actual NSA high-tech spy systems, mind-reading machines, secret government projects, and emerging artificial intelligence programs that seem as if they came right out of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Orwell’s famous book was written in 1948 and first published in 1949. It tells the story of a nightmarish future where citizens have lost all privacy and are continuously monitored by the omniscient Big Brother surveillance system which keeps them obedient to a totalitarian government.
The novel is eerily prophetic as many of the fictional systems of surveillance described have now become a reality. Mark Dice shows you the scary documentation that Big Brother is watching you, and is more powerful than you could imagine.
George Orwell’s classic, 1984: Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever.1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.