China social credit system, punishments and rewards explained

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An internet cafe in Wuhan, China.REUTERS/Stringer

The Chinese state is setting up a vast ranking system system that will monitor the behaviour of its enormous population, and rank them all based on their “social credit.”

The “social credit system,” first announced in 2014, aims to reinforce the idea that “keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful,” according to a government document.

The program is due to be fully operational by 2020, but is being piloted for millions of people already. The scheme is mandatory.

At the moment the system is piecemeal — some are run by city councils, others are scored by private tech platforms which hold personal data.

Like private credit scores, a person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behaviour. The exact methodology is a secret — but examples infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.



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