Silicon Valley Copycats China’s Orwellian Social Credit Scheme
By Stephen Green August 26, 2019
In China, it’s becoming common for subjects of the Communist state’s growing digital apparatus to be denied air travel or business class train tickets, have their internet bandwidth throttled, have their kids denied admission to better schools, denied employment in certain sectors, or even have their dogs taken away. It’s called “social credit,” it’s kept track of digitally and with zero transparency, and Beijing is trotting it out in stages by 2020 as a sort-of kinder, gentler totalitarianism.
Think of it as a digital Stasi. Your neighbor catches you smoking in a non-smoking area, and reports on you with his phone. The state telecom notices you’re spending too much time playing online videogames. Your latest social media post gets too many downvotes. Or maybe someone at work you’re having problems with just makes something up. It could be almost anything, but once your social credit score turns negative, your life can become a living hell, and with no legal recourse. You’ll have to become a conspicuously good little Communist to turn your credit positive again.
Or as the government itself says, “Keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful.”
Silicon Valley says: “Hold my soy latte.”
In a piece headlined “Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system,” Fast Company’s Mike Elgan reports on similar, albeit extralegal efforts to create something similar right here in the United States.
Ever gotten out of an Uber and given your driver a low rating because his car was dirty or he drove unsafely? Well, he can rate, you too, as can other “gig” service providers. Elgan writes:
Airbnb—a major provider of travel accommodation and tourist activities—bragged in March that it now has more than 6 million listings in its system. That’s why a ban from Airbnb can limit travel options.
Airbnb can disable your account for life for any reason it chooses, and it reserves the right to not tell you the reason. The company’s canned message includes the assertion that “This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts. Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account.” The ban can be based on something the host privately tells Airbnb about something they believe you did while staying at their property. Airbnb’s competitors have similar policies.
It’s now easy to get banned by Uber, too. Whenever you get out of the car after an Uber ride, the app invites you to rate the driver. What many passengers don’t know is that the driver now also gets an invitation to rate you. Under a new policy announced in May: If your average rating is “significantly below average,” Uber will ban you from the service.
Most anything is ratable by your driver, and Uber’s decisions are final.
Read more at the link below.
Photo credit: A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard near surveillance cameras in front of Mao Zedong’s portrait on Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)Attribution: PJ MEDIA