China’s ‘totalitarian’ plan to organize society on big data


big-data2Imagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are.  In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticizing the ruling party, could cause you to lose points, Simon Denyer writes for The Washington Post:

It is the scenario contained in China’s ambitious plans to develop a far-reaching social credit system, a plan that the Communist Party hopes will build a culture of “sincerity” and a score based on citizens’ every activity. A high-level policy document released in September listed the sanctions that could be imposed on any person or company deemed to have fallen short. The overriding principle: “If trust is broken in one place, restrictions are imposed everywhere.”

SAINT MALO, FRANCE - JUNE 8: Chinese writer Murong Xuecun poses during a portrait session held on June 8, 2014 in Saint Malo, France. (Photo by Ulf Andersen/Getty Images)

“China is moving towards a totalitarian society, where the government controls and affects individuals’ private lives,” said Beijing-based novelist and social commentator Murong Xuecun (right). “This is like Big Brother, who has all your information and can harm you in any way he wants.”


“A huge part of Chinese political theater is to claim that there is an idealized future, a utopia to head towards,” said Rogier Creemers, a professor of law and governance at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“Now after half a century of Leninism, and with technological developments that allow for the vast collection and processing of information, there is much less distance between the loftiness of the party’s ambition and its hypothetical capability of actually doing something,” he said.


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