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DW: Always on camera: Social surveillance in China – Credit or control?


Big Brother – and another example of the potential tool for repression that AI and facial recognition software represent


China is developing a “social credit system” to evaluate its citizens’ behavior. The system uses a point scheme to reward good conduct and punish bad conduct — such as criticizing the government, or even running a red traffic light.

People who pay their bills too late or drink too much alcohol will be given penalty points, and could face travel restrictions or have their financial credit rating lowered. Good conduct could be rewarded with discounts on bookings for hotels or rental cars. The system will use the millions of suveillance cameras that have been installed throughout China — plus facial-recognition- and motion-profile technology — to keep track of people. The “social credit system” is now in the testing phase, and it’s already become controversial. It’s scheduled to be introduced in Beijing next year.
In our report, we’ll meet a young woman who works as a marketing manager, and has a good behavior rating. She says it may help to get her young son into a top-quality school. We also talk to a journalist whose reports on corruption earned him a bad score. The authorities then blocked his social-media accounts, and banned him from flying on passenger jets. The “social credit system” has hit one of China’s ethnic minorities particularly hard: the mostly-Muslim Uighurs, who live in the northwestern autonomous region of Xinjiang.

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