Wired: Big Brother Meets Big Data as China Rates Citizens

Trust is in the eye the beholder, and the friend who speaks the truth is better than the one who tells others what they want to hear. China is developing a Social Credit System to evaluate citizens and assign trust scores, explains Rachel Botsam. An excerpt from her book was published by Wired. Of course, the system has many critics who compare the system to George Orwell’s novel 1984. “For now, technically, participating in China's Citizen Scores is voluntary,” she writes. “But by 2020 it will be mandatory. The behaviour of every single citizen and legal person (which includes every company or other entity) in China will be rated and ranked, whether they like it or not.” The system relies on data collected by internet companies like Tencent, WeChat and Alibaba – similar to Amazon, Google, Facebook and credit-rating agencies in the United States. China’s system assesses credit history, contract fulfillment history, personal characteristics, behavior and preferences and friendships. Millions of people voluntarily signing up for the system may hope to prove they have nothing to hide. The system also warns against certain purchases or friendships. “The new system reflects a cunning paradigm shift,” Botsam notes. “It is a method of social control dressed up in some points-reward system.” – YaleGlobal

Wired: Big Brother Meets Big Data as China Rates Citizens

The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020 to assess the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion people
Rachel Botsman
Wednesday, January 3, 2018

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This is an extract from Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart (Penguin Portfolio) by Rachel Botsman, published on October 4. Since this piece was written, the People’s Bank of China delayed the licenses to the eight companies conducting social credit pilots. Government plans to launch the Social Credit System in 2020 remain unchanged.

© Condé Nast UK 2017