We’ve all heard of the “credit score,” right? That number that tells lenders whether you’re a responsible borrower, or if you’re some sort of deadbeat? Your borrowing, repayment, and income history are all factored in to arrive at a number that serves as a shorthand for your credit-worthiness.
Now, imagine taking all your Internet activity and all the doings of you and your friends and using that to come up with a “score” showing how good a citizen you are.
Welcome to today’s China:
China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ” In the system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.
The system will be run by China’s ostensibly private (1) Internet companies. Read on to see how Yahoo –an American company– is a part owner in this tool of oppression. Ironic, right? The Internet, which is supposed to intellectually liberate Man by providing him with near limitless information, is instead being twisted by an evil regime and its American(!) collaborator into a means of thought control.
This should rightly horrify Westerners, Americans most of all (2), and it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect a government founded on the principle of human liberty to not only criticize such a system and those who enable it, but to forbid companies that do business in the US from any participation.
But that would require an American government that believed in American values, something we’re currently lacking.
I suppose we should be grateful progressives can’t ever implement something similar here.
(1) Only officially a Communist state, now. Though the Communist Party maintains a monopoly on political and coercive power, the system has evolved more toward a fascist, state-capitalist model.
(2) Except for certain New York Times columnists who really, really wish we were more like China.