China is racing to become the first country to implement a pervasive system of algorithmic surveillance, igniting fears that the government will control its citizens’ lives.
The country will step up the building of its planned social credit system by rolling out new market regulatory measures in an effort to meet its self-imposed 2020 deadline, CNBC reported on Thursday (July 25).
The building of a social credit system has been justified in the name of national security and social stability. The proposed system intends to establish a standard for tracking individuals’ actions across China, and rewarding or punishing accordingly.
China’s evolving algorithmic surveillance system will rely on the security organs of the communist party-state to filter, collect, and analyze staggering volumes of data flowing across the internet, the article said.
Authorities say the government already has 990 million records on individuals and 25.91 million enterprises.
China has put a strong emphasis on the building of a social credit system since the State Council issued a guideline in 2014.
There are dozens of pilot programs that feature tracking metrics and consequences for violations. The new Chinese app WeChat has already been created specifically to shame people who don’t pay their bills.
The “deadbeat map” app with WeChat, which was developed by the People’s Court in Hebei, allegedly reveals all deadbeat debtors residing within 500 meters of a user’s phone.
Back in 2017, WeChat admitted that it provided information about its users to the government after an update revealed that all the private information of customers will be disclosed to authorities.
Consequences are already in place. Last year (2018) people were blocked from buying tickets 17.5 million times for offenses like unpaid taxes and fines. Travelers were also barred 5.5 million times from purchasing train tickets, while 128 people were blocked from leaving the country because of unpaid taxes.
The country sees the system as a success, with the Information Center saying it has caused 3.5 million people to “voluntarily fulfill their legal obligations.”