The collection of big data by governments is one of the largest threats to liberty the people of the world have ever faced (Even if they don’t realize it). But thanks to the Chinese Communists, the citizens of China are about to experience why.
The International Business Times reports that the Communist Chinese are about to embark on a giant social engineering program in the hopes of shaping the perfect Chinese citizen. The Chinese government is set to issue its citizens “Social Ratings” based upon all of the data they collect via their credit rating, criminal record, and social media behavior:
“How good a citizen are you? China hopes to answer that question for every one of its citizens with a numerical rating system based on their financial standing, criminal record and social media behavior. A new translation of the government’s plans for a so-called social credit system sheds light on how China aims to utilize “Big Data” to hold all citizens accountable for financial decisions as well as moral choices.
“China’s plans to roll out a citizen rating system has been in the works for years. Rogier Creemers, a China expert at Oxford University, recently published a translation of a document circulated through various levels of government detailing the six-year rollout of the program. According to a State Council notice, the central government hopes to have every adult in China assigned a credit code in addition to a government-issued identity card by 2020.
“Accelerating the construction of a social credit system is an important basis for comprehensively implementing the scientific development view and building a harmonious Socialist society,” the memo reads, adding that it has “important significance for strengthening the sincerity consciousness of the members of society.” The “guiding ideology,” the name of a subsection in the memo, states that a key principle of the system is “government promotion.”
While using financial, Internet and other data to evaluate individuals is not a new phenomenon, China will likely be the first nation to do it publicly and have the systematization and rationalization for doing so down to a numerical index. In an interview with Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant, Creemers draws similarities to the former East German system but says the Chinese are taking it even further.
“The German aim was limited to avoiding a revolt against the regime. The Chinese aim is far more ambitious: It is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen,” Creemers said in the interview, explaining that the program will incentivize specific behavior. “This is a deliberate effort by the Chinese government to promote among citizens ‘socialist core values’ such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard and avoiding extravagant consumption.”
According to the same article, a similar secret program in the United States was exposed by CIA whistle blower Edward Snowden.