China's 'Social Credit System' Blocks Low-Ranking Citizens From Traveling

UPDATED on March 19, 2018:

Back in November of 2017, we got word that China would be developing a 'Social Credit System,' similarly to Black Mirror's "Nosedive" episode. Initial thoughts immediately concluded that the ranking system would change the way the society functions from here on out. Now, we don't have to assume, we know it's true.

The new system is called Zhima Credit and it scores and ranks citizens based on how they interact with people. While the system was expected to make a full,country-wide debut in 2020, it looks like things are officially off to an early start.

(Screenshot: Netflix)

According to Marketplace, the effects of the system are already taking shape. Chinese citizen and business-owner Xie Wen says he applied for a loan and was rejected, and later tried to purchase a plane ticket online but was blocked by the system.“That is when I knew I was blacklisted,” Xie said.

According to Xie’s, his advertising company was sued by another firm over a contract dispute and lost.Xie was then ordered to pay $127,000 to the defendant, which he didn’t. Fast-forward seven months later and boom, Xie Wen has been blacklisted on the credit system, which companies and citizens are encouraged to check before entering deals.

The credit system lets citizens accumulate a score between 350 and 950, with points able to be accumulated in a variety of ways. Acts such as doing charity work or donating blood, for example, earn citizens points and a higher ranking. 

According to Telegraph, higher ranking citizens will receive shorter waiting times at hospitals and even receive cheaper transportation fees on public transportation. Those with lower scores, however, will suffer from slower internet speed and won't be able to dine in some restaurants.

Whether or not this could actually give citizens an incentive for good behavior or be the first steps toward an unfortunately uncomfortable new public norm that isolates those with bad luck, we can't know for sure. What we do know, however, is that we are legit living in the future now and Charlie Brooker is a time-traveler. Stay woke.

Original article below:

In 2020, the Chinese government will embark on a venture straight out of a Black Mirror episode with its controversial Social Credit System a formal ranking system used to judge the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion residents. 

While many of us are screaming, 'this is some Orwellian shit,' it leaves the rest of us to wonder what exactly the costs and benefits could be for having a government system which monitors and judges your daily acts.

Where and what you shop for would be under scrutiny. What bills or taxes you paid for (or didn't pay for) would be under a microscope. You'd be judged on your friends and affiliations. Does this sound problematic? Or only for people with something to hide.

All of these activities and more would be used to accumulate a Citizen Score that would determine your eligibility for a job or mortgage, where your children could attend school or even your chances at getting a date. 

Truth be told, anyone reading this should know their actions, whereabouts and behaviors are already being closely tracked. That Facebook of yours is collecting information and those Google searches you keep doing are being tracked and stored as well. But now, imagine all of this information could be used for or against you. 

This is what the Chinese government is planning to unveil come 2020 as a way to measure and encourage the trustworthiness of its citizens. According to the the written policy:

"It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility."

Currently, citizens can participate in China's Citizen Score system voluntarily, but come 2020, it will be mandatory act that will likely change the landscape of common behavior. For every independent citizen, but also for every company or corporation, this is without a doubt a make-or-break era in privacy as we know it.