(Newswire.net — January 25, 2018) –The Chinese government started an initiative to develop and implement a national reputation system back in 2014. The plan is to have it in place and functioning by 2020. As of the beginning of the year there is no nation-wide fully comprehensive and functioning system.
Most of the media coverage has so far been focused on the credit ratings of individual citizens, but the idea is for the system to include businesses operating in China as well.
There has been mass criticism of the system calling it a surveillance tool.
It is being developed by Ant Financial Services Group with ties to the Alibaba Group and the Chinese government. Alibaba is a massive tech and e-commerce conglomerate that supplies the Ant Group with big data used to compile individual scores for citizens and businesses.
A persons individual score is used to rank citizens based on their loyalty to the Chinese government and to local brands. The big data tracks their online purchases and even social media interactions.
Citizens can benefit from having a high score by receiving better loan conditions, easier access to better jobs and administrative shortcuts. The penalties for a low score include low internet speeds and restricted internet access as well as fewer job and loan opportunities.
Being associated with someone who has a low score can negatively impact your rating as well.
It is obviously not just intended as a means of economic regulation but citizen behavior as well. The lack of personal privacy does sound Orwellian, but there have been many cases of censorship and surveillance in the past making the internet users of China accustomed and complacent to such measures.
Either way the system in not in place yet and is initially being tested on local levels and specific industry sectors.
In January 2018 there was public revolt when Alipay forwarded all customer purchase information to the Sesame Credit system.
At the bottom of an annual report there was a tick box that defaulted to sharing the information to the Social Credit System.
There has also been a rise of distrust towards the country’s most used chat service WeChat. There have been arrests made based on conversations held on the app and it was even used as evidence in court cases.
With customer personal data being more of a current issue and concern, the Sesame Social Credit System might run into some bumps in the road before being fully implemented in 2020.