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Digital dictatorship or New world? China introduces a System of social credit
Material posted: Publication date: 08-04-2018

Karma in real time, checking all spheres of human life, the constant pursuit of points and painful relationship to his social ranking... Regular fiction? No, China 2020.

The embodiment of old dreams

In 2017 people's Republic of China launched an active pilot projects testing a new system of social credit (社会信用体系). A more accurate meaning translation of this term — a system of social trust. About the creation of a system of thought under the previous Chinese President Hu Jintao, who ruled the country from 2002 to 2012. It was with him in 2007 he published "Some observations of the office of the state Council of China on the establishment of a social credit", very similar to the extended scoring system — assessment of the borrower's creditworthiness, which produces the FICO in the United States.

After coming to power XI Jinping, the state Council of the PRC in 2014 published a new document — "the Program of creation of system of social credit (2014-2020)". In which the previously proposed system has changed beyond recognition.

It transpires from the programme that by 2020, not only every company, but every citizen of mainland China will be monitored and evaluated this system in real time. Trust rating of individuals will be tied to the internal passport and will be published in a centralized database in the Internet for free access.

Simply put, having a high rating will use a variety of social and economic benefits. And those who have a bad rating will have to suffer — they will fall all the power of administrative sanctions and restrictions. The main task, and it's plain text specified in the "Program of the state Council" to "justify the trust enjoyed all the benefits, and lost the trust could not make a single step" ("让守信者处处受益让失信者寸步难行").

Sincerity in everything

The main purpose of system implementation — the construction of a harmonious socialist society. The main value of such a society — honesty, which should manifest itself in everything from online behavior to honoring parents. To develop this quality in people, every citizen of China, the system will assign a rating. In the absence of violations of the law, a useful social activities and, for example, timely payment of income tax. For offenses of different severity — be deducted. If it's "no-go", life will turn into torture.

In September 2016, the Chinese government published a revised range of sanctions, which will be the owners of the low ratings:

  • the prohibition to work in state institutions;
  • denial of social security;
  • thorough screening at customs;
  • the ban on holding managerial positions in the food and pharmaceutical industry;
  • denial of tickets and berth on night trains;
  • failure in places in luxury hotels and restaurants;
  • the ban on the education of children in expensive private schools, etc.

How to earn ratings, or at least not to lose them?

Authorities say it is very simple. Enough to live by the law, repay loans on time, pay taxes, follow the rules of traffic rules (for each violation, in addition to the administrative penalty, removed from five score), not to violate the moral foundations of society, and all will be fine. Not removed in the yard for your dog or minus five points. Spent an elderly neighbor to the clinic – got five points. Also do not forget about the proven system of denunciations, which is actively encouraged by the system.

However, clear criteria of evaluation of moral components no one reads. For example, the paragraph with the "honoring parents", which evaluates the system, it sounds very blurry. How often to visit parents, in order to recognize you a good kid? Or as a fixed fact to a neighbor? Unknown.

How to gather information about the citizen?

Information will be collected from various governmental institutions, law enforcement and municipal authorities. Moreover, as indicated in the program of the state Council, directly collect information will deal with eight private companies.

The first two of the eight private companies that collect information – Alibaba and Tencent. Why did you choose these companies, of course. Tencent, owner of WeChat messenger which is used by 500 million people. Alibaba is the largest platform of Internet Commerce, which is used by 448 million Chinese, and the sales volume is more than $23 billion and Tencent, and Alibaba are actively developing the FINTECH industry: mobile payment services these two companies – Alipay and WeChatPay – account for 90% of mobile payments market in China, the volume of which reached $5.5 trillion.

What information can collect these companies? Most valuable. Know what you buy, where you buy. By geolocation, you can track where you are at what time. You can evaluate your real income, area of interest, keep track of who and what you hang out in the chat that I read. What social media posts you write, what kind of content you like. Alibaba, which not only owns the Alipay platform, but 31% in Weibo, the largest Chinese microblogging service c 340 million users, knows about the Chinese, perhaps more than the Ministry of public security.

Today Alibaba has already launched its own rating service Sesame Credit. The rating affects how real is the name you used to register your account in social networks, what you write and buy, what you read and who you're friends with. If the friends are people with low rating, your ranking also falls.

By the way, in October 2016 Chairman of the Board of Alibaba Jack MA urged law enforcement agencies to use the Internet-company data to identify criminals: "It is normal when a person alone buys a pressure cooker, a timer, and even steel bearings or gunpowder, but abnormal if he buys all at the same time".

Ratings for business

For legal persons the rules of the game clearer. Companies checked for compliance with their environmental activities, legal regulations, inspected the conditions and safety, financial reporting. If no claims – the company is assigned a high rating, and it enjoys preferential tax regime, good credit terms, in relation to it simplified the administrative procedures on the principle of "making incomplete kit". This means that if you appeal to some authority the company submitted incomplete set of documents, its treatment is still adopted in the work, and missing documents just to tell then or even send a scan.

Those who have a low rating – expensive loans, higher tax rates, a ban on the issue of securities, the prohibition on investment in companies whose shares are traded on the stock exchange, and the need to get government permission to invest even in those sectors to which access is in principle not restricted.

The largest social experiment of the XXI century

Questions, even the purely legal to the system of social credit is still a lot. For example, who will judge the System itself? Of course, in official documents it is mentioned that the Supreme power should become a driving force and role model in the new system of social credit. However, the specific measures and test projects while apply only to the party officials, grass-roots level. For example, the party school of the CPC Committee of Sichuan province recently signed with the University of electronics and technology of the PRC the agreement to create the country's first rating system and reliability evaluation for the officials of the grass-roots level. The system is called "Smart red cloud". However, will be evaluated by officials of higher level or they will remain "gray" for the Digital Eye?

The Chinese authorities are concerned about the reliability of the system. It is easy to guess, that its services will involve huge computing power and advanced software protection. However, what happens if its hacked? Or in the process of computation will fail, which will earn points wrong and someone's life gets into the red zone reliable?

Do not forget about the human factor. Circumstances may occur that will delay the salary and the citizen will not have the time to pay the loan. What then? Such situations can be modeled by a great variety. Is it possible to explain the situation to the system or the rules are the same for everyone? In short, the question comes up a lot, and not all of them, the authorities of the PRC today has the answers. In short, when does the experiment a failure or will be a window to a completely different, even somewhat frightening world - time will tell. In any case, the political will to bring it to completion at the Chinese authorities are quite present.

In the meantime...

The Chinese media announced the start of the next phase of the "social ratings". From may 1 to get on a plane or a train will not two categories of citizens. First - those who were convicted of disorderly conduct or serious offences. In particular, persons suspected of disseminating terrorist information, using fake documents, including tickets, carrying prohibited items, blocking the passage through the checkpoints, threatening staff noticed the thefts, and those who fight on Board the vehicle or was caught trying to smoke on Board the aircraft.

The second category - the so-called economic offenders: persons evading from payment of taxes, is seen in the production of false financial reports, employers do not pay wages on time and evading contributions to social insurance funds, the management companies that are not paying timely dividends to shareholders.

The system will look like the following: at the beginning of each month on the websites of the civil aviation administration or the railroad company will publish the names of those who are denied the right to travel. Also their names will be published on In this case, the offender is given the opportunity to rehabilitate themselves is during the week he must apply that do not agree with the prosecution that will be considered by the relevant authorities. If the citizen did not try to plead not guilty, for the first time he was forbidden to use trains and planes throughout the year.

Daria Hramotkin, especially for TSSOP

Tags: assessment , China

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