China’s social credit system is getting creepier by the day. Not that this is surprising, given how creepy the idea itself is. The idea behind the system is pretty simple: modernize and update the means by which a totalitarian society can monitor, influence, and punish citizens and businesses to ensure conformity throughout society. Early in this century China finally began implementation of a credit monitoring system similar to those found in the West. They were initially far behind the West in keeping track of basic financial information, but as with many things they have zoomed ahead rapidly.
Some genius in China liked the idea so much that they proposed expanding the system to behaviors that weren’t related to financial matters. If you can score people based upon financial performance, what else could be kept track of and score? It turns out that a lot of information fits the bill, including compliance with political diktats and perceived Wrongthink.
Privileges and punishments can be tied to your social credit, and through the use of apps on everybody’s phones people can be tracked and identified. In some cases, others around them can be notified about the social credit rating of any person. They can literally be geolocated, identified to others, and information collected by the government can be shared with people near the “offender.”
Internal passports required for travel within China, and of course visas to visit other countries can be granted or denied based upon the accumulated social credit, and a range of other activities allowed or limited based upon the whims of officials. The scores can be used to blacklist or whitelist citizens, extending benefits to those who are compliant and punishments to those who are not.