Summary of Big Data Meets Big Brother as China Moves to Rate Its Citizens

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Big Data Meets Big Brother as China Moves to Rate Its Citizens summary


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In a system of perfect social control, not only would the government and big business monitor your every action, thought and movement, but so would your neighbors, colleagues, friends and even family. In a society such as this, would you begin to police yourself? Would you become a better person? The Chinese government believes so and is implementing a system designed to do just that. Author Rachel Botsman outlines China’s Social Credit System, which will become mandatory for all Chinese citizens by 2020. getAbstract recommends this article to anyone concerned about how their data may someday become a form of behavioral control.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the Chinese government uses algorithms to give people personal ratings,
  • Why people volunteer for the program and
  • Which systems in the West may produce a similar outcome.

About the Author

Rachel Botsmon is a writer and entrepreneur. She is the author of Who Can You Trust.



In 2014, the State Council of China released its proposal to give every Chinese citizen a score. The government claims the program, known as the Social Credit System (SCS), rewards socially desirable attitudes and behaviors. The aim is to create a culture of “sincerity” to reduce corruption. The Chinese government has licensed private companies to produce “social credit scores.” While officials won’t say exactly how they calculate scores, one company, Alibaba, says five factors have an influence: credit history, contract fulfillment, verification of personal information, behavior and relationships. Incentives encourage users to enroll in the voluntary schemes and nudge participants toward “good behavior.” Benefits for behaving well include access to loans, faster Internet speeds and relaxed travel restrictions. By 2020, participation in the SCS program will be compulsory for every person and business.

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