Heres How The Social Credit System Operates In China
First, however, for those who are unaware of the Social Credit System as it operates in China, we should briefly describe just what has taken place there. The Social Credit System in China isnt merely a punishment for criticizing the state as is the case in most totalitarian regimes, the SCS can bring the hammer down for even the slightest infraction such as smoking in a non-smoking zone.
One summary of the SCS can be found in Business Insiders article by Alexandra Ma entitled China has started ranking citizens with a creepy social credit system heres what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you, where Ma writes,
The Chinese state is setting up a vast ranking system that will monitor the behavior 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 nationwide by 2020, but is being piloted for millions of people across the country already. The scheme will be 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.
How To Check The Status Or Rating Of Your Company Using Creditchina
is a search tool , providing a range of information on companies and individuals. Information incorporated into its assessments includes:
- Basic identifying information for the company, including the companys Unified Social Credit Code and permits held
- Any applicable administrative penalties
- Any payment defaults recognized by the Courts
- Any instances of tax evasion and fraud
- Instances of illegal importing or exporting
- Unpaid wages
There are several sub-databases provided, including one relating to redlisted companies, one for blacklisted companies, and one for companies with irregularities.
To proceed with checking your rating or score in CreditChina go to the CreditChina homepage as shown below:
Then, take the following steps:
The record that you see, will show:
- Any administrative permits held by the company
- Any administrative penalties applied to the company
- The presence of the company on redlists
- The presence of the company on blacklists
- The presence of the company on any irregularity list.
If you find negative entries , you should seek advice on how to improve your situation. Or, if you think there has been an error, you can make a complaint seeking directly to the authorities seeking a correction of your record.
How Healthy Is The Uks Social Credit Score
Aside from how people felt about this method of societal ranking, we asked the British public a series of questions to determine how they would perform if the social credit system was brought into force.
To achieve this, we looked at what is considered to be bad behaviour under the current Chinese system
- 25% of those surveyed said they spent more than 4 hours a day on streaming television, films and video games.
- 30% said that they had criticised the government on social media.
- 25% of people admitted to sharing articles online that they werent sure were factual.
- 35% of Brits confessed to disobeying traffic laws when driving.
- 54% of respondents said that they had crossed the road without looking both ways.
- 64% said that they would refuse to sign up for military service if it was asked of them.
- 41% of Brits consider themselves to be bad or not great at saving money with almost 25% admitting that they regularly go on ill-advised spending sprees.
- 41% of respondents admitted theyve been late paying bills.
In each of these scenarios, at least a quarter of the people we surveyed would be penalised under a social credit system operating under the same principals as the scheme active in China and the one being proposed in Germany.
Using these figures as a basic indicator of performance, the average amount of UK residents currently making choices that would land them with a bad social credit score would be 40%.
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Consent And Credit Checks
In general, you need to give permission, or your consent, for a business or individual to use your credit report.
In the following provinces a business or individual only needs to tell you that they are checking your credit report:
- Prince Edward Island
Other provinces require written consent to check your credit report. When you sign an application for credit, you allow the lender to access your credit report. Your consent generally lets the lender use your credit report when you first apply for credit. They can also access your credit at any time afterward while your account is open.
In many cases, your consent also lets the lender share information about you with the credit bureaus. This is only the case if the lender approves your application.
Some provincial laws allow government representatives to see parts of your credit report without your consent. This includes judges and police.
Financial Information In Your Credit Report
Your credit report may contain:
- non-sufficient funds payments, or bad cheques
- chequing and savings accounts closed for cause due to money owing or fraud committed
- bankruptcy or a court decision against you that relates to credit
- debts sent to collection agencies
- inquiries from lenders and others who have requested your credit report in the past three years
- registered items, such as a car lien, that allows the lender to seize it if you don’t pay
- remarks including consumer statements, fraud alerts and identity verification alerts
Your credit report contains factual information about your credit cards and loans, such as:
- when you opened your account
- how much you owe
- if your debt has been transferred to a collection agency
- if you go over your credit limit
- personal information that is available in public records, such as a bankruptcy
Your credit report can also include chequing and savings accounts that are closed for cause. These include accounts closed due to money owing or fraud committed by the account holder.
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It Can Affect Your Finances
Financial institutions look at your credit report and credit score to decide if they will lend you money. They also use them to determine how much interest they will charge you to borrow money.
If you have no credit history or a poor credit history, it could be harder for you to get a credit card, loan or mortgage. It could even affect your ability to rent a house or apartment or get hired for a job.
If you have good credit history, you may be able to get a lower interest rate on loans. This can save you a lot of money over time.
Is There More Than Social Credit
China’s social credit scheme is developing, but it is only one part of the country’s surveillance state. As well as tight controls on the web content which is available, through the country’s national firewall, there is monitoring and censorship of social media.
Ahead of the 30-year anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests researchers at the University of Hong Kong found that critical posts on the social networks of Weibo and Wechat were removed. Leading video platforms also all simultaneously turned off comments saying system upgrades were needed. There have also been crackdowns on the use of VPNs, which can help protect people’s privacy online.
The country has developed advanced facial recognition systems that are able to follow people across entire cities. In a show of power at the end of 2017, Chinese officials working in co-operation with BBC News showed how it could track down and find one of the organisation’s reporters within seven minutes. The movements of journalist John Sudworth were monitored as the country’s network of 170 million CCTV cameras was leveraged to follow him.
More worryingly, the region of Xinjiang, in the north west of the country has become a test bed for China’s vast digital control operations. In particular, the largely Muslim minority of Uighur people has been subjected to increased surveillance and discrimination. It has been uncovered that more than 500,000 face scans of Uighurs have been conducted.
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Finding The Right Amount Of Punishment
The fragmentation of the SoCS leads to stark differences in reward and punishment applications. What may not lead to a blacklisting in one city may lead to a blacklist in another city.
As at national level, the 28 pilot cities primarily rely on binary red lists and blacklists. Local data sets compiled for this analysis show that just over 700.000 people and companies in these cities have been blacklisted amounting to merely 0.5 per cent of their combined population.
Many model cities operate well over 20 different blacklists and red lists. The blacklists associated with key areas designated by the central government are relatively well implemented and standardised. For instance, between 70 and 90 per cent of blacklistings target judgement defaulters, i.e., people who refuse to repay loans or court-ordered fines while having the capacity to pay. These are managed by the national court system and are deemed to work effectively already.
Beyond the few relatively clearly defined issues, categories of offences and encouraged behaviour are murkier. Exhibit 11 shows how cities have devised completely different red lists and apply them differently.
This ambiguity was especially apparent during the Covid-19 epidemic, where model pilot city Zhengzhou indiscriminately red-listed all hospitals assigned to handle Covid-19 patients, i.e., basing special trustworthiness on doing what is required. And other cities blacklisted citizens for as little as not wearing a mask.
The Social Credit System Has Become A Flexible Tool For Speedy And Strict Enforcement
The SoCS has arrived at the end of its crucial six-year construction phase. This represents a good time to take stock of its evolution. One key finding: the system is in many ways less coherent than top-level government blueprints demand. This inherent flexibility allows it to be swiftly redirected towards rules enforcement in changing policy circumstances, something amply displayed in Chinas pandemic response.
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Chinas Social Credit System: A Scoring System With Far
Since 2014, preparations have been ongoing in China for a national social credit system that will be compulsory for all citizens and businesses. The nationwide roll-out, originally planned for 2020, will very likely be delayed. However, many local Chinese companies and foreign companies registered in China are already under close surveillance and tracked in ratings lists and databases. For this reason, companies that trade in China or that are planning to move to the Chinese market must make sure they understand the effects of Chinas social scoring system well in advance.
The Punishments Can Come In A Few Forms Like Travel Bans Slow Internet And Being Banned From Higher Education
China has already started punishing people by restricting their travel, including banning them from flights.
Authorities banned people from purchasing flights 17.5 million times by the end of 2018, according to the National Public Credit Information Centre, as the Guardian reported.
They can also clamp down on luxury options many are barred from getting business-class train tickets, and some are kept out of the best hotels.
The eventual system will punish bad passengers specifically. Potential misdeeds include trying to ride with no ticket, loitering in front of boarding gates, or smoking in non-smoking areas.
According to Rachel Botsman, an author who in 2017, the government will throttle your internet speeds as a punishment, though the exact mechanics still haven’t been made clear.
According to Foreign Policy, credit systems monitor whether people pay bills on time, much like financial credit trackers but also ascribe a moral dimension.
You or your kids could also miss out on the best jobs and schools seventeen people who refused to carry out military service in 2017 were barred from enrolling in higher education, applying for high school, or continuing their studies, Beijing News reported.
And in July of 2018, a Chinese university denied an incoming student his spot because the student’s father had a bad social credit score for failing to repay a loan.
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What Is Chinas Social Credit System
Chinas Social Credit System is similar to how a regular credit score functions. Now a normal credit score only deals with your current financial state and financial history. A typical credit score is decided by five different factors: payment history, utilization, length of credit history, recent activity, and overall capacity. However, Chinas social credit score expands the typical credit score system into all ways of life.
According to the Chinese government, the system is designed to monitor and engineer better behavior on an individual level and a business level. The system awards good behavior, which leads to a higher score, and punishes bad behavior, which leads to a lower score. China already has the bones of this system in place but the SCS takes this activity to a whole new level.
Standardisation Is Slowly Underway
The State Council is keen to address these challenges: it released several new guidelines between 2019 and 2020 to standardise SoCS implementation practices. In February 2021, the State Administration for Market Regulation published a draft to standardise blacklisting of severely untrustworthy companies.34
In some ways, these appear effective first steps to address aforementioned concerns. The guidelines now more clearly define different levels of untrustworthy conduct, even if they leave room for flexible interpretation. For instance, severe untrustworthiness now requires both a serious violation of the law and a major threat to health and safety, disruption of the marketplace, or failure to perform national defence obligations.35 They also standardise blacklisting procedures such as information provision, withdrawal mechanisms, and more.
The new guidance ultimately aims to strictly control implementation of the SoCS and is one of the factors that contributed to halting experiments with over-engineered and highly controversial behavioural data. Possibly as a result, the proportion of blacklisted companies nationwide between 2018 and 2019 dropped 0.21 percentage points to 1.1 per cent.36
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Is The Uk Ready For A Social Credit System
We conducted a survey to find out how Brits viewed the idea of social credit scoring. Our results showed that the social credit score is a concerning concept, with 66% of respondents stating that they would change their day to day behaviour .
This even extends to who people associate with, as a staggering 75% said they would cease contact, or at least think about doing so, with someone that would negatively affect their social score.
Are There Overseas Equivalents To The Social Credit System
As noted above, it has been suggested that the social credit system is not so different from forms of citizen evaluation in other countries, such as the United States. Is this true? Below we consider some of the wide-scale trust and big data programs in other countries, and consider how they compare with elements of the China social credit system:
- One of Australias biggest immigrant groups are New Zealanders, who are entitled to live and work in Australia for life under the terms of a special category visa, usually awarded on arrival. This visa has a good character test which has been used to deport those resident in Australia for decades, entirely at the discretion of officials. In a recent case, this was used to detain and deport a 15 year old child. Arguably, this has some similarities with the way the China social credit system can affect freedom of movement based on anti-social behaviour.
As is evident from the examples given above, many elements of the China social credit score are already implemented in other countries.
What is distinct about Chinas system is its sheer size and breadth, as well as an overall Government strategy and direction around the collection and use of big data.
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Is A Single Rating System Even Possible
Based on publicly available information, all currently operating systems dont actually involve the existence of any kind of unified scale, as previously proposed. In reality, current ratings are collections of independent ratings that exist across a wide array of areas and organizations. Moreover, punishments are, as a rule, connected with the area in which the citizen committed the offense. For example, those who were fined for traveling on a train without a ticket receive limits on their use of public transportation. Or, if a person was blacklisted on one social network or an apartment rental service, they most likely will not experience similar issues in competing services. The overlap between different sectors is, so far, minimal.
In fact, such an exchange of information between different companies was launched long ago, although the scale is not yet so obvious. Many companies sell data about their users or offer services that help third-party companies learn something new about their clients without an explicit data transfer . Of course, this raises its own set of ethical questions, such as companies collecting data about their clients activity online, without their knowledge, and selling the information to the highest bidder.
Heres What You Can Do According To Kaspersky Experts:
- Change your privacy settings based on the level of protection you want on all the major social networking sites you use
- Be careful about what you postnot every photo needs to be online
- Block the installation of programs from unknown sources in your smartphones settings
- Pay attention to what permissions apps requests and turn off accessibility services
- Delete accounts, apps, and programs you no longer use, as they may still be collecting and processing information about you
- Use a VPN when logged onto unsecured, public WiFi
- Use a reliable security solution like Kaspersky Security Cloud that includes a Private Browsing feature, which prevents websites from collecting information about your activity online
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