Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Communism meets the digital age

by Margaret Stewart - Copy Editor
Tue, Oct 30th 2018 10:00 pm
SOCIAL CREDIT China has taken new advancements in technology as a way to reimagine communism. The use of social credit to limit certain citizens because of their bad habits will put restrictions on things like internet speeds and access to better seats on trains and planes. Citizens and companies will also be able to access each other's scores.
SOCIAL CREDIT China has taken new advancements in technology as a way to reimagine communism. The use of social credit to limit certain citizens because of their bad habits will put restrictions on things like internet speeds and access to better seats on trains and planes. Citizens and companies will also be able to access each other's scores.

Modern society has brought along many advancements, especially in technology. In the last few decades the word “tablet” has been completely redefined as texts are being read through them. Computers have been developed and merged with cell phones for a portable way to always remain in contact with others. Speaking of contact, the development of the internet gave birth to social media which has become an international phenomenon that connects all parts of the globe in an instant.

With technology impacting every aspect of everyday life, it was only a matter of time before governments started to implement it for their own use. While Americans commonly, half-heartedly joke about the United States government tapping phones, listening in through Alexa or watching through built -in webcams, the Chinese government has taken the digital age to another level.

The Chinese government has direct control over its citizens and while it is not uncommon to read a tweet from President Trump, communism has been reimagined through technology in China. They have developed a “social credit” system. Once upon a time decisions used to be made on people’s integrity, knowing that even if you do not agree, you would be respected. However, things are quickly changing in China. The new system works like a credit score except instead of judging people’s financial credit, the government is judging people based off their interactions in society.

“A person’s social score can move up and down depending on their behavior,” states businessinsider.com. “The exact methodology is a secret — but examples of infractions include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.”

Punishments for such infractions limit everyday capabilities. In March, Channel News Asia reported “more than nine million people in China have been banned from buying plane tickets and another three million from buying business-class train tickets because of their poor ‘social credit’ ratings.” This punishment will be refined to target “bad” travelers specifically.

Additionally, internet speeds are suspected to drop for those guilty of internet related infractions. Some of these would include: playing video games for an extensive period of time, making in app purchases and posting on social media. The last caveat is especially interesting as social media platforms and interactions are only growing in popularity, especially with young millennials.

Most concerning is how this system will impact people’s futures. It is not only adults who will be required to join the system, but children as well. According to Beijing News, “17 people who refused to carry out military service last year were barred from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies.”

Having a bad social credit score will get your name added to a blacklist of sorts. While people have ten days to appeal, it is unlikely a verdict will be overturned. Once added to the blacklist, a person’s name is made public so everyone knows who is in good standing with the Chinese government and who is not.

While it is not as concerning that other citizens know each other’s standings, it is important to note that companies also receive this information. Not only that, companies are not only able to access this list, but they are encouraged to do so when making staffing decisions.

Many are against this program, but there are also many who seem to be in support of it. In an interview with the New York Post, Dandan is proud of her score and her country. “China likes to experiment in this creative way. I think people in every country want a stable and safe society,” she said. “We need a social credit system. We hope we can help each other, love each other and help everyone to become prosperous.”

With the recent commentary and release of citizens in some of their concentration camps, it is only natural to wonder if the two events are linked. After all, if they’ve already been given poor social scores, they won’t be able to live their lives anyway.

Though proposed in 2014, the mandatory system is predicted to be fully operational in 2020.