In China, a Three-Digit Score Could Dictate Your Place in Society…

"It was as if Amazon had swallowed eBay, Apple News, Groupon, American Express, Citibank, and YouTube—and could siphon up data from all of them."
Preempting instability:

“That’s why social credit ideally requires both coercive aspects and nicer aspects, like providing social services and solving real problems. It’s all under the same Orwellian umbrella.”

Dystopian implications: #MinorityReport?
"Because of my middling score, however, I had to pay a $30 deposit before I could scan my first bike. Nor could I get deposit-free hotel stays or GoPro rentals, or free umbrella rentals. I belonged to the digital underclass."
True in practice???

"For a while people with scores over 750 could even skip the security check line at Beijing Capital Airport.

Two years after signing up for Zhima Credit, Lazarus Liu was trending up to that number."
Secret secrets:

"The algorithm behind my Zhima Credit score is a corporate secret. Ant Financial officially lists five broad categories of information that feed into the score, but the company provides only the barest of details about how these ingredients are cooked together."
"...elsewhere the algorithm veers into voodoo, or worse. A category called Connections considers the credit of my contacts in Alipay’s social network. Characteristics takes into consideration what kind of car I drive, where I work, and where I went to school."
"In the foreground was... a dial showing that I had reached only a quarter of my potential. An article on the portal explained that my score put me in the category of 'common folk.' The page read: 'Cultural level is not high. Retired or nearly retired.'"
"She explained how to boost my score. 'They will check what kind of friends you have,' she said. 'If your friends are all high-score people, it’s good for you. If you have some bad-credit people as friends, it’s not nice.'"
"There are chat rooms where people with decent scores seek out other high scorers, presumably to boost their ratings. But in general, people simply make assumptions about which contacts have good credit and which are better left unfriended."
"To understand the allure that social engineering holds for [PRC] leaders, you have to go back decades..long before apps & big data. In the years after the 1949 Communist Revolution, the govt assigned everyone to local work units, which became the locus of surveillance &control."
"One possible scenario for a social credit partnership is that the central bank will oversee the development of a broader metric, like a FICO score, while letting companies like Ant Financial collect data to feed into that score."
"the larger social credit system 'will definitely be under the government’s control,' says You Xi, the reporter who wrote the book about Ant Financial. 'The government doesn’t want this very important infrastructure of the people’s credit in one big company’s hands.'"
"One day last May, Liu Hu, a 42-year-old journalist, opened a travel app to book a flight. But when he entered his name and national ID number, the app informed him that the transaction wouldn’t go through because he was on the Supreme People’s Court blacklist."
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