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In China you can rate people: the good citizenship card

In China you can rate people: the good citizenship card

June 12, 2024

Establish a valuation system in which each person is punctuated and that the amount of points we have affects our lives. Even in a society like ours, in which we are often concerned about the opinions that the rest have about us, this idea may seem exaggerated and more typical of science fiction than reality. In fact, it is a concept that we can see in series such as Black Mirror (in his chapter "Downhill"), in literature (Orwell's 1984) or in videogames. However, it is something that has been proposed to be carried out in reality.

In fact, face 2020 it is proposed to occur in China, with the Zhima Credit System and the good citizenship card .


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Big brother comes to China

The concept of Big Brother was born in the 1984 novel by Orwell, an author who presented a future in which citizens were monitored continuously, being watched and controlled in such a way that everything they do and say is observed and valued. This idea has expanded among the population until it is used to refer to situations in which there is extreme control and manipulation of the population's behavior. And it is something that could happen in China when the system that occupies us in this article is implemented.

For some years, China has proposed and approved the implementation of a system that allows, Through the extensive network of cameras that cover the country, assess the performance of citizens based on criteria and algorithms at the moment secrets.


The process in question is not something that has already been established definitively, but it is open to changes depending on the appearance of different variables and successes and errors that must be modified. In this sense, the government has provided permits to eight private companies to generate a system based on algorithms dedicated to the control and punctuation of the actions of the population, being the system Zhima or Sesame Credit of Alibaba one of the most active and popular (next to the company China Rapid Finance) in the generation of an algorithm based on diverse criteria.

Among these criteria we could find the financial history (do you pay the bills? Do you ask for credits?), The ability to satisfy contractual obligations (efficiency and effectiveness at work), personal characteristics and behavior and preferences. This means that the economic capacity, labor productivity of each citizen, what they buy and what they do not, their habits and tastes, will be continuously evaluated. I would reward him and punish him for it .


Participation in this program is, for the time being, voluntary. However, it is proposed that starting in 2020 it is mandatory for every person and legal entity in China. Thus, the whole country will have a social valuation as a citizen, its actions being punctuated and controlled.

Of course, this initiative is subject to numerous criticisms and controversies, since supposes an almost total control of the citizenship on the part of the authorities and being subject to criteria unknown by the majority. After all: what is it to be a good citizen? The answer to this question is subject to great subjectivity.

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Surveillance by facial recognition

To function, this system requires an intricate system of cameras that cover the cities, as well as a software that allows facial recognition . And the truth is that both elements are already established in China: there is for example the possibility of buying or withdrawing money from banks based on the analysis of their features, without requiring cards, with systems such as Face ++.

It is also used in a punitive way: in some cities we can see how there are large electronic signs where the faces of citizens who have been recorded committing some imprudence are shown in regard to automobile traffic, whether pedestrians or drivers, by way of public derision (it is necessary to pay to remove their image).

These are useful systems in different ways, whose application has allowed the detention of multiple criminals and suspects. Facilitate your location and know what they have done and when. It also makes something simpler to buy, not specifying elements such as cards to pay and reducing the probability of theft (although there is also the risk of hacking the system).

Likewise, the idea of ​​controlling information about some aspects of citizens' lives is not new or exclusive to China. For example, in the United States there are reports on credit and the efficiency and financial reliability that can have repercussions when it comes to obtaining credits or assessing conditions .

What is pioneering and controversial of this initiative is the fact of applying it to the whole population in a generalized way, and the idea of ​​valuing what good or bad citizen one is, with this assessment being much more subjective. In addition, such control would be exercised continuously throughout the life of the subject, in all areas where it could be recorded.

Our score has consequences in day to day

The score and assessment that citizens may have will not be merely anecdotal, but will have its consequences.

As stated, the people with low social value could see how their Internet access is lower and low-speed, and access to different leisure systems, services and products (going to the movies or certain restaurants for example, or enrolling their children in private schools) or specific rights (taking out your passport, accessing some jobs or access the right to use some transport methods), will also be limited if conducts considered inappropriate. For example, someone with very low valuation could not access fields related to legality, civil law or journalism.

On the other hand, those who have a higher score could have multiple benefits in addition to being socially better valued: can for example have priority to obtain visas , and will be exempt from having to leave a deposit in hotels or rent an apartment (although this only applies to some cities).

It is a system that has been qualified by the government as a method so that those worthy of trust and appreciation can act freely while those who do not deserve such trust and incur in different crimes have difficulties to act as they please. This concept can be dangerous, anywhere in the world: Dissidences or concrete ideologies could easily be repressed and punished , and even scientific advances contrary to the opinion or interests of classes closer to power could be restrained.

Altering the behavior

In addition to the above, this scoring system can have other types of risks: deeply alter our behavior, even where surveillance does not come.

The main advantage is that it increases the security in terms of blood crimes, and also decreases the possibility of breaking the law, which could lead to reduce imprudence such as those that lead to a traffic accident.

The adverse consequences are clear. There is a loss of freedom and privacy , leaving the whole of our behavior exposed and being constantly judged by other people whose ideas do not have to correspond to ours.

As well non-criminal or pernicious behavior can be judged , as the individual social and personal habits and the divergences with the norm could be harmed. Likewise, spontaneity would be lost and every act would become much more controlled, due to fear of possible reprisals. This puts the citizen under high pressure in all areas of their lives, generating stress and anxiety that can diminish their abilities and even damage their health.

Another element to keep in mind is the possible desperate search for social approval , the assessment and the score that we could take to an obsessive or histrionic point can be: although in principle the own score is not shared with the rest of citizens, the fact of being valued better or worse will make some people look over all approval, compulsively and desperately.

Finally, we can find another risk: the sale of our data to third companies so that they benefit and try to attract us to their products. While this is something that is already carried out normally when entering different websites and social networks, that is already requiring an implicit acceptance that these websites have at least part of our information and is not something that is carried out by the mere fact.


China's social credit score bans some from travel (June 2024).


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