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Chances are you might have heard about China's new social credit system.
You know … the thing people are calling a scary dystopian surveillance program right out of George Orwell's book '1984.'
"It's almost like they're exporting dystopia."
"China's dystopian future. The world's first digital dictatorship."
It's been painted as a countrywide surveillance program that watches every single thing that you do.
From what you're posting online to the way that you cross a street.
But what would you say if I told you that a country-wide behavioral monitoring system is NOT actually a thing in China?
Well not yet, at least.
So China wants to set up a massive, state-sanctioned system that would rank every citizen based on their behavior.
"So basically it's meant as a tool to enforce all kinds of different laws, regulations, and other policies more effectively."
"By getting people to self-police their behavior."
"People and also legal entities, like companies."
"So this is not just about regulating people's behavior, but also companies."
Behavior considered 'good' by the government would get a better ranking than behavior deemed 'bad', which would get a lower ranking.
And if you have a bad score, you get punished.
You could be banned from flying.
Your kids could be prevented from attending good schools.
And you could even lose out on a good job.
And when reports of the system hit Western media, some people were terrified.
They compared the proposed system to that crazy episode of 'Black Mirror'.
But the idea of a credit system that tracks you in certain ways;
To determine how much or how little access you should have to certain things isn't new at all.
Take the United States, for example.
It has a financial credit system where a number of different factors determine your credit score.
If you don't have a good score, you can be denied housing, loans, or lines of credit.
And although it has its problems, it does serve a purpose.
It helps determine whether someone can be trusted to repay their debts.
In China, the world's most populous country and second-largest economy, there hasn't been anything like that.
So their proposal? The social credit system.
But China took the idea of credit one step further.
On June 14 2014, the Chinese government formally announced its plans to create their social credit system.
A policy it deemed essential in "Building a harmonious, socialist society".
"The way that this is presented in Chinese media is that, you know, China is a low trust society."
"There is no trust between market participants."
"Like, you can't really tell if a company or person's trustworthy, if they'll pay back the money."
"So this social credit system is kind of presented as a cure-all of China's trust-based and supposed dishonesty-based problems."
And under their proposed system, all behavior, not just financial, would be considered relevant in your ranking.
So if you're caught doing things like jaywalking;
Spending too much time playing video games;
Or posting things deemed inappropriate on social media, you could get penalized.
But the exact methodology that the state will use to determine what is and isn't relevant remains unknown.
And that is probably because the government is still figuring out how they want this system to be implemented country-wide.
"There are a number of cities that have kind of been designated as experimental zones in a way."
"Which is very common in China, that's often how Chinese policies are rolled out."
"You try them out in certain districts, counties, and cities first and then you roll them out."
And those pilots programs vary, some of them aren't as extreme as others.
There are those that aren't even digitally-based.
Meaning individuals have to be caught breaking the law or doing something deemed inappropriate in person.
Or have someone report on them.
And then there are those that monitor someone's social media and movement through camera systems.
And Ohlberg says, in some pilots, those who 'exhibit desired behaviors' get good grades and:
"Supposedly those people are also treated differently."
"If they have, like, an A or an AAA, they kind of get preferential treatment and interaction with government ministries with the local government."
"And in the future, an increasing number of different benefits."
But just because it's not currently as widespread or problematic as Western media has made it out to be;
Doesn't mean that there aren't significant ways the system could be misused.
"On the one hand it's supposed to make sure that companies that violate environmental regulations;"
"Or labor regulations get punished for that."
"But on the other hand it's also supposed to enforce very vague laws such as endangering national security."
Laws that, if used maliciously, can be used to target citizens.
We know that China has targeted and detained large numbers of ethnic Uyghur Muslims, placing them in government re-education camps.
And even though the Western media is sensationalizing the hell out of this story;
It is possible that once a nationwide credit system is implemented in China, it could be extremely problematic.
"Ultimately the idea that different governments or companies collect and centralize information about us;"
"Try to profile us, try to rate us, ultimately is a problem that's going to affect all of us, Chinese or not."
"Because even though what China is doing is kind of the extreme of this;"
"Ultimately it's a global problem that we are going to have to deal with."
What do you think of the idea of a social credit system?
Do you think it's a necessary step that needs to be taken?
Or do you think it's just an overreach by the Chinese government?
Make sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.
Thanks for watching Now This World and please don't forget to like and subscribe for more every week.
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What Is China's Social Credit System? | NowThis World

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Celeste published on July 19, 2019    Celeste translated    Evangeline reviewed
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