Do you buy a lot of video games? Don’t move to China. According to a new state program, first announced in 2014 and expected to be completely implemented by 2020, buying a lot of video games is a violation of “societal integrity” and subject to a reduction of your personal reputation score and sorry, now you can’t get a job.
Dressed up as a promotion of “trustworthiness”, the proposed social credit system uses mass surveillance, data analysis, and other undisclosed methods to impose restrictions on citizens for other infractions like refusing to do military service, wasting money on junk, and propagating fake news on social media, Independent reports, with nine million people already blocked from domestic airline travel. And, I mean, maybe that fake news one doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, except the problem of what exactly constitutes “fake news” in a country with an inconvenient policy of state-sponsored propaganda and censorship.
Inevitably, Human Rights Watch has denounced the system as “chilling”, but one Rongcheng resident told Foreign Policy that it works.
“I feel like in the past six months, people’s behaviour has gotten better and better,” he explains. “For example, when we drive, now we always stop in front of crosswalks. If you don’t stop, you will lose your points. At first, we just worried about losing points, but now we got used to it.”
Five points for that guy.