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February 8 2018

Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens

In June, the State Council of China published a document that introduced the idea of implementing a national trust score that would rate its citizens.

This Social Credit System would rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens and is intended to build a culture of sincerity. This system, which will become mandatory by 2020, has been compared to, "Yelp reviews with the nanny state watching over your shoulder." Big players in the plan include China Rapid Finance, a partner of the social-network Tencent and developer of WeChat, Sesame Credit, which is run by insurance and loan company Ant Financial Services Group. This group also owns AliPay, a payment system used for buying online and paying for things like taxes, school fees and retail stores.

The resulting repercussions of the system's findings are simple: If trust is broken in one place, restrictions are imposed on everything, from slower internet speeds, to restricted access to restaurants and nightclubs.