DOG owners walking pets without a leash in China are being BARRED from flying or buying train tickets.
The harsh punishment resulted in would-be air travellers being blocked from buying tickets 17.5million times last year.
New York Times The system is part of efforts to use technology, including facial recognition, to tighten control in China
And others were prohibited 5.5million times from obtaining train tickets, according to the National Public Credit Information Centre.
The Associated Press reports that travellers are being blocked from buying tickets for “social credit offences” including unpaid taxes and fines under a controversial system the ruling Communist Party says will improve public behaviour.
In an annual report, public credit officials said 128 people were blocked from leaving China due to unpaid taxes.
The bizarre system is part of efforts by President Xi Jinping’s government to use technology, ranging from data processing to genetic sequencing and facial recognition to tighten control.”ORWELLIAN SYSTEM”
Authorities have experimented with “social credit” since 2014 in areas across China.
Points are deducted for breaking the law or, in some areas, offences as minor as walking a dog without a leash.
The ruling party says social credit penalties and rewards will improve order in a fast-changing society, after three decades of economic reform have shaken up social structures.
Markets are rife with counterfeit goods and fraud, says AP.
But human rights activists say the punitive system is too rigid and might unfairly label people as untrustworthy without telling them they have lost status or how to restore it.
US Vice President Mike Pence criticised it last October as “an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life.”
The ruling party wants a nationwide system by 2020 but has yet to explain how it will operate. Possible penalties include restrictions on travel, business and access to education.
A slogan repeated in Chinese state media says, “Once you lose trust, you will face restrictions everywhere.”
AIMED AT OFFICIAL CORRUPTION
For example, a number of students were barred from attending schools and universities because of their parents’ low credit scores, reports the Washington Post.
The publication says the system is “complex and less sinister” than it appears, however, as the project is aimed at building a “culture of trust in Chinese society” to help stymie official corruption, and punish unethical behaviour among professionals, including teachers.
Those making the blacklist include senior officials from city and district-level governments, who have been blocked from taking flights, or staying in posh hotels. the Washington Post adds.
The Associated Press explains that firms on the blacklist can lose government contracts or access to bank loans or be barred from issuing bonds or importing goods.
Offences penalised under social credit last year included false advertising or violating drug safety rules, the government information centre said.
CONTROLLING THE PUBLIC
Social credit is just one way in which the ruling party is taking advantage of increased computing power, artificial intelligence and other technology to track and control the Chinese public.
The police ministry launched an initiative dubbed “Golden Shield” in 2000 to build a nationwide digital network to track individuals.
Human rights activists say people in Muslim and other ethnic minority areas have been compelled to give blood samples for a genetic database.
Those systems rely on foreign technology. That has prompted criticism that US and European suppliers might be enabling human rights abuses.
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This week, Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said it no longer would sell or service genetic sequencers in the Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang in the northwest following complaints they were used for surveillance.
As many as one million Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang are detained in political education camps, according to US officials and United Nations experts.
The government says those camps are vocational training centres designed to rid the region of extremism.
Reuters The ruling party wants a nationwide system by 2020 but has yet to say how it will operate
Getty – Contributor US Vice President Mike Pence criticised the social credit system as ‘an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life’