Beijing is developing a social credit system—and it should be on everyone’s radar

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Beijing’s development of a social credit system is bringing about a new level of social engineering. Graphic by Maria Nevada

Will Patterson
OPINION EDITOR

A credit score that expands beyond finances and into every aspect of every citizen’s life—the Beijing municipal government is openly developing a system that fits this very description.

According to Reuters, plans for creating a social credit system were first announced in 2014 with the intention of launching the system in 2020. Alarms are being raised as the deadline approaches—and rightfully so. This system would supposedly track “financial credit, personal behavior and corporate misdeeds.”

It was only recently mentioned that there would be a point system as part of the social credit. The details about points have not yet been revealed, but the Beijing government has signaled those with low scores will find life to be very difficult.

Bloomberg reported that the data gathered from this development has already been used to prevent 11 million flights from being booked and 4 million train rides. This coincides with the Beijing government’s announcement that low scores can restrict free movement.

According to the previously referenced Bloomberg article, a Beijing official said that this effort would be setting a standard for other places in China. Beijing only comprises 22 million of China’s 1.3 billion citizens—but nationwide expansion appears to be the plan.

Beijing is ushering a new era of social engineering with this social credit system. Straight out of a dystopian science fiction movie, this system would grant the government immense control over all aspects of day-to-day life.

Simply put, far-reaching, micro-managing systems of control are finally possible with today’s advanced technology. For people unfortunate to live under such governments, the death of social freedom could be on the horizon. This concept is no longer confined to the realm of science fiction.

China has a reputation for locking out journalists investigating negative stories, but international media must shine a light on this growing injustice. Furthermore, the rest of the world must keep a watchful eye on the world’s first social credit system. Without enough care, people across the globe may find themselves living a reality lifted straight from the pages of “1984.”

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