Social credit system: A dangerous form of control in China

As in Venezuela, Chile will implement a citizen control system. Here you can find all about it

Social credit system: A dangerous form of control in China

The social credit system is a regulatory measure that the Chinese government began to implement this year. This consists of offering incentives and facilities to those citizens who, through a system of points and a roster, can access different benefits granted by the same government and private companies providing basic services that in theory should be granted in the same way to any citizen.

Leer en español: Crédito social: Una peligrosa forma de control en China

Access to these benefits depends on how high and how broad is the position and the qualification of the citizens, who are permanently monitored by this social credit system. Thus, the position and the rating can go up or down, according to the appropriate or inadequate that the government considers has been the behavior of each person.

"The clearest example (of invasion and violation of people's privacy) is seen in China, where a "social credit system" has been implemented, which assigns a score to citizens based on their behavior, responsibility or financial stability," explained the digital transformation consultant and blockchain technology specialist, Sergi Mateo, on his blog.

Then he added: "Thus, for example, a citizen with a low score can not apply for a mortgage to buy a house or is prohibited from boarding a plane for a certain period of time, these are some of the many penalties incorporated into the system."

Mateo said that according to the Chinese government, the objective of social credit is "to benefit citizens who are trustworthy and restrict the movements and operations of those who are not." However, Mateo adds that while this is the argument facing the public, the real purpose of the system is to increase control, and therefore, the power of the State over the people.

Censorship and restrictions for citizens

By constantly monitoring the millions of citizens who live in China, the government monitors the habits and daily activities of these people. The objective of this is to establish who, in their opinion, deserve to be rewarded to enjoy the benefits offered, or vetoed as a form of punishment if they do not behave "appropriately".

In a report titled Leave no dark corner, made by the Australian journalist Matthew Carney for ABC of Australia, it is described the social credit of China as follows: "The system works 24 hours a day thanks to 200 million cameras installed in all corners of the country, so there is no corner without surveillance in which to "hide"."

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Also, it is explained that "Currently in tests, will serve those who have "good social credit" to get VIP treatment in hotels, airports, when going to university or get cheaper loans. On the other hand, those who have their social credit on the ground will not be able to travel, they will not be granted loans and they will not be able to be public officials either."

In an article for Retina, a site specialized in economics of the newspaper El País in Spain, the journalist Zigor Aldama explained the aspects taken into account to qualify citizens, which he describes as "varied and vague". According to him, these are:

  • "Legal credibility: the existence of precedents or pending cases
  • Commercial honesty: it will penalize the delay in the payment of bills
  • Social integrity: no smoking in public places or cause situations that alter the order
  • Behavior in social networks: it will penalize, for example, the spread of false news or rumors
  • Even the score of friends will affect their own"

From China to Venezuela

China's social credit system resembles the famous Venezuelan Fatherland Card (Carnet de la patria). The latter is an alternate identity document to the normal identification document, which was created by the government of Nicolás Maduro in 2017. Through this, Venezuelan citizens are classified as beneficiaries of social aid and incentives granted by the government of this country.

In theory, and as Maduro himself explained at the time, the objective of the Fatherland Card is to give aid to the poorest Venezuelans who have suffered the effects of hyperinflation and the serious economic crisis that affects the country.

The problem, as has been denounced by the opposition and even by several dissident Chavistas, is that it has also been used as a strategy to gain support for the Venezuelan government and to mitigate the nonconformity due to the economic and humanitarian situation the country is experiencing; in addition to conditioning the delivery of aid and stimuli, in large part, to support the government of Maduro.

Although China's social credit system is in the stage of experimentation and testing, the dangers and risks were already pointed out to Chinese citizens. This system will be fully implemented by the year 2020.


LatinAmerican Post | Samuel Augusto Gallego Suárez

Translated from "Crédito social: Una peligrosa forma de control en China"

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