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Social credit: China’s new citizen governance game

by Futures Centre, Jan 31
1 minute read

Chinese authorities have announced a system which will score its citizens’ ‘social credit’. The Government’s goal is to connect all citizens to an obligatory social credit system by 2020, which will assess “trustworthiness”. How exactly trustworthiness is determined remains relatively mysterious, however the BBC reported that an array of government data, including information on personal finances and traffic violations, will have a bearing on user score and ranking.

China social credit

A total of eight state-sanctioned commercial systems offering personal credit ratings were launched at the end of last year, which will inform the design of the state social credit system. Sesame Credit, run by Alibaba – the world’s largest online shopping platform, is the most well-known of these. The site compiles consumer information into a score based on purchasing practices. Although Alibaba’s algorithm has not been unveiled, what is bought, how much is spent and the volume of purchases is taken into consideration. Consumers can earn perks with high scores, as well as share them with their circles to garner social credit.


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