China is reportedly using its social credit system to prevent people who have committed crimes such as spreading fake news about terrorism or creating problems on flights from riding on transportation for as long as a year.
According to a report in Reuters citing statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website Friday (March 16), those that were found to be guilty of engaging in financial wrongdoings — including employers who don’t pay social insurance or people who ignored fines — could also face the restrictions on travel. The rules, noted Reuters, are in effect as of May 1. Reuters reported that the move meshes with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s plan to create a social credit system that it said on the website is based on the principle of “once untrustworthy, always restricted.” The notices were signed by eight ministries, including China’s aviation regulator and the Supreme People’s Court, noted Reuters.
While the notices came out late last week, Reuters noted that China may have been using a social credit scoring for transportation in the country for some time now. It noted that in the early part of last year, the Supreme People’s Court said that 6.15 million Chinese citizens have been banned from taking flights because of what were deemed to be social misdeeds. Since 2015 China has been tapping into Big Data to build a robust social credit system for its citizens that will be used to calculate credit scores derived from lending and payment history and a person’s digital footprint. The credit system’s use will extend beyond just being a credit rating system and will be used to provide information on different aspects of the user, ranging from loan worthiness to relevant data for an employer — and now to ban them from traveling within the country. The program has resulted in an outcry from Chinese watchdogs who fear that the system will develop into something proportionate to the American government-led surveillance of its citizens.