Black Mirror has come to life in China.
A bad social ranking could affect every aspect of someone's life, The Verge reports, thanks to the country's forthcoming "social credit" system. The system, set to launch in May, will allow the Chinese government to establish rules that will judge citizens' behaviors and financial backgrounds in order to determine Citizen Scores, which will affect a person's access to high-speed internet, restaurants, and travel. Citizens with low scores will also be banned from buying train or plane tickets.
The scores, on a scale of 350 to 950, ding people for failing to pay a phone bill on time, but get a boost if friends and acquaintances rate a social interaction positively, Rachel Botsman writes in her book Who Can You Trust?, published in part by Wired.
Travel restrictions are the newest addition to the burgeoning system, The Verge reports. Government documents show a plan to block poorly scored citizens from air or rail travel for up to a year, though perhaps less for minor infractions like leaving a bike parked on a footpath. More than 7 million citizens have already been blocked from travel, Human Rights Watch reports, for offenses like "insincere" apologies.
The big-data endeavor has already partially launched in China; volunteers have been participating in the program since 2014. But Botsman writes that by 2020 the social credit system will be mandatory, ranking and rating all 1.379 billion citizens of China.