China's Social Credit System

Exposing China's Digital Dystopian Dictatorship” — ABC News Australia, 2018, 27:14

“Leave No Dark Corner” is a slogan China’s authorities have long used to root out “unstable elements”. One manifestation of this surveillance society is the newly unveiled Social Credit system. Imagine an all-encompassing credit score based on your family, social networks, cultural affiliations, consumption patterns, employment history, educational achievement, and so much more. Individuals with high social credit scores are granted social privileges and benefit economically. Individuals with low social credit scores have their movement and liberties restricted. They are denied access to social media, cannot purchase tickets for public transportation, and may even be harassed by the government. China’s impressive surveillance system makes all of this possible. This video is basically a real life episode of the Netflix series Black Mirror.

Although American society is highly suspicious of surveillance, do you think we are headed in a similar direction? How do technological advancements and big data create unavoidable webs of surveillance operated by private companies? If we suddenly had a social credit system, what do you think your score would be? What activities and measurements should be included in a hypothetical American social credit system? How do such systems perpetuate privilege and cumulative advantage?

From the video’s description: When big government meets big data, you get 'Social credit', China's new amalgamation of all data points collected on an individual and processed to produce a 'score' that ranks you based on 'trustworthiness'. Score high, and you can reap rewards like lower interest rates or speedier services, but fall foul, and you could end up under effective house arrest.