The Great Database of China: Rating Moral Behavior, Blacklisting Citizens

from the really-bad-credit-score dept

The Great Firewall of China is well known; a report in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant discusses a translation by Rogier Creemers of China's new Social Credit System plan -- a national store of citizens' ratings that promises to become the Great Database of China:

The intentions of the new system are not only economical, fighting fraudulent practices, but also moral. 'This is a deliberate effort by the Chinese government to promote among its citizens "socialist core values" such as patriotism, respecting the elderly, working hard and avoiding extravagant consumption', says Creemers. A bad 'credit code' can result in being not eligible for certain jobs, housing or credit to start a company. 'On the labour market you might need a certain score to get a specific job.'
Here are some details about how this would apply to online activities:
Forcefully move forward the construction of online sincerity, foster ideas of running the Internet according to the law and using the Internet in a sincere manner, progressively implement the online real-name system, perfect legal guarantees for the construction of online credit, forcefully move forward the construction of online credit supervision and management mechanisms.
The "online real-name system" is something we've written about before. A small consolation here is that China has been trying to bring this in for over a decade; its continuing failure to do so offers hope that the Great Database of China might be even harder to construct.
Establish online credit evaluation systems, evaluate the credit of the operational behaviour of Internet enterprises and the online behaviour of netizens, and record their credit rank. Establish network credit files covering Internet enterprises and individual netizens, vigorously move forward with the establishment of exchange and sharing mechanisms for online credit information and corresponding credit information in other areas, forcefully promote the broad application of online credit information in various areas of society.
The following section of the planned Social Credit System is particularly chilling:
Establish online credit black list systems, list enterprises and individuals engaging in online swindles, rumourmongering, infringement of other persons’ lawful rights and interests and other grave acts of breaking trust online onto black lists, adopt measures against subjects listed on black lists including limitation of online conduct and barring sectoral access, and report them to corresponding departments for publication and exposure.
As well as the sheer ambition of this database, which would cover the entire population of China, another novel aspect is where some of the ratings will come from, as de Volkskrant explains:
Innovative will be the active contribution of citizens rating other citizens. 'Imagine a Chinese person being able to rate his doctor or his professor, as is already happening in the US. And he or she might also give a bad score to polluting companies, as the system will be applied to companies and institutions as well', says Creemers.
Of course, online rating systems are already commonplace in other fields. There, they have led to fierce arguments and costly legal battles. The proposed system in China probably won't suffer from those problems, since the Social Credit System will presumably be secret. However, it will be far more insidious since the resulting "credit score" will have a major impact on people's lives and the opportunities open to them, notably for anyone that finds themselves -- unbeknownst -- on one of those blacklists.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 1:21am

    No-Fly-List-plus.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 1 May 2015 @ 7:10am

      Re:

      We've had this for decades.

      We call it FICO.

      It could make you ineligible for transactions.

      It could make you ineligible for jobs.

      Only recently could you even see your own score.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 2:27am

    They're simply copying the US

    Except here we've allowed commercial operations to handle most of this, giving the government plausible deniability.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 6:02am

      Re: They're simply copying the US

      This? This is far worse.

      Currently, our blacklists only prevent you from traveling. We've already seen the US government use those no-fly lists to pressure people "into becoming informants". Think about if they had the power to keep you from the rest of your life too.

      ... drone strikes excepted, of course. They can do that too, in which case the rest of your life isn't all that long.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 May 2015 @ 4:55am

      Re: They're simply copying the US

      I would be very surprised if there are not already systems in place to determine 'risk' ratings from a mix of social network data plus additional data like phone call/message relationship graphs, geographic location etc.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 3:45am

    reminds me of the DoJ forcing banks and other institutions to shut down the accounts of porn actors because of the morally wrong nature of their jobs in the DoJ eyes. Never mind the illegality of them doing such a thing

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 3:57am

    Apparently US Tor dev Jacob Appelbaum doesn't think it's so bad in China.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/jacob-appelbaum-and-chinese-surveillance-2015-4

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:39am

    Do party members get a discount when purchasing these credits?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 4:51am

    Sounds like Nanny-Net to rescue.
    Those ne'er–do–wells on the net are in for it now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Hephaestus (profile), 1 May 2015 @ 6:15am

    I wouldn't worry about this to much. A system like this is going to be abused, by politicians, their friends, and families. Even if it isn't, the rumors that it is being abused, are more than enough to cause it's failure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 9:03am

      Re:

      ...A system like this is going to be abused, by politicians, their friends...

      Yep. Put the Chinese Premier on that list and see how long that lasts.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      Except, this system is the ideal way to prevent said rumors from spreading: Get caught spreading a rumor the system is corrupt, and your score drops. I can see lots of people in China deciding not to see what spreading a rumor the system is corrupt does to their scores.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 May 2015 @ 7:08am

    very interesting.  i have to wonder if the activities of our supersnoops here aren't actually intended to develop our whiteness rating system.

    gotta catalog first.  then comes the stick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Just Another Anonymous Troll, 1 May 2015 @ 7:20am

    Much like the Great Firewall and the Great Wall before it, I suspect the Great Database will become a Great Failure.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.