The Ugly Truth About Social Credit


Austin Country News Online

Social credit is a system that judges people with giving them a score.

Conner L., Writer

China is setting up a virtual grading system that will monitor the large population by a system called Social Credit. The “Social Credit system” was first announced  in 2014, which aims to improve the behavior of their citizens.

The system is supposed to be fully operational nationwide by 2020, but has already begun to be used by millions of people across the country. This credit system is mandatory. 

Like private credit scores (like Equifax in the US), a person’s score can go up or down. But instead of reflecting a person’s spending habits, China’s system reflects personal behavior. Some examples of risking a drop in score include, bad driving, buying too many video games and posting what China considers “fake” news online.

With a low credit score, also comes the punishment of a slow down in internet speed.

“I feel like it’s your choice to do what you’re supposed to do, because if you’re playing too much video games and they give you a low score for that, I don’t think it’s right.”  Julia Martin said.

China has also started banning civilians from traveling due to a lower score.

Nine-million people with low scores are currently restricted from buying tickets for domestic flights or even riding a local bus. 

The NPR.Org interviewed Lao Duan, a 42 year-old with a low score, who stated, “One thing that comes along with the blacklist, the untrustworthy list, is that you are barred from high-end consumption, which means that you can’t take a speed train. You can’t fly.”

In July, a Chinese university denied an incoming student from enrolling because the student’s father had a low credit score. It can prevent having a certain job, staying at a nice hotel or having a dog. 

The Eastern Chinese city of Jinan enforced a law for dog owners in 2017, where pet owners who walk their dogs without a leash or cause public disturbances would be docked points. After losing too many points, the dog would be confiscated.

China’s government has made a blacklist for people who have low credit scores, that blacklist can be posted on giant electric billboards (like the screens in Times Square in New York City). The screens would project their face with personal information about where the violator lives as well as their social credit information.