Home > credit scores, data science, modeling > China announces it is scoring its citizens using big data

China announces it is scoring its citizens using big data

Please go read the article in the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant entitled China rates its own citizens – including online behavior (hat tip Ernie Davis).

In the article, it describes China’s plan to use big data techniques to score all of its citizens – with the help of China internet giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent – in a kind of expanded credit score that includes behavior and reputation. So what you buy, who you’re friends with, and whether you seem sufficiently “socialist” are factors that affect your overall score.

Here’s a quote from a person working on the model, from Chinese Academy of Social Science, that is incredibly creepy:

When people’s behavior isn’t bound by their morality, a system must be used to restrict their actions

And here’s another quote from Rogier Creemers, an academic at Oxford who specializes in China:

Government and big internet companies in China can exploit ‘Big Data’ together in a way that is unimaginable in the West

I guess I’m wondering whether that’s really true. Given my research over the past couple of years, I see this kind of “social credit scoring” being widely implemented here in the United States.

  1. May 4, 2015 at 7:50 am

    In a related story …

    No One Expects The Vamish Inquisition


  2. JSE
    May 4, 2015 at 8:32 am

    “When people’s behavior isn’t bound by their morality, a system must be used to restrict their actions.” To be fair to the Chinese Academy of Social Science, this is basically exactly what Bruce Schneier says; governments inevitably impose formal constraints on any social system that scales past the size informal constraints and norms can handle.


    • May 4, 2015 at 8:42 am

      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

      The catch being that the custodians who are least bound by common morality are the ones who always levitate themselves to the top of the pyramid and their arrogant presumption that the unwatched masses aren’t bound by ordinary decency is really a projection of the depravity in their own souls.


  3. Aaron
    May 4, 2015 at 10:15 am

    That quote isn’t so creepy to me. I pretty much agree with it. Don’t you keep arguing that in fact we need a better system to rein in behavior of immoral financiers?


  4. May 4, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Good post and ironic that at the Milken Conference this year we had to listen to COO of Facebook and Bob Rubin whine “we want the good old USA back”..basically arguing over who’s code created what we have in the US with “scoring” people into oblivion with no way to get out as I have called it for years “Attack of the Killer Algorihtms”….


  5. May 4, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Reblogged this on Network Schools – Wayne Gersen and commented:
    I’m adding this to my “Chinese Capitalism” archive… it’s full of articles that suggest China and the US are devolving into one nation controlled by plutocrats… We need to make sure that we are not assembling a “permanent record” on each citizen that includes not only their clicks on social media but also their medical and scholastic records…


  6. Rusted Spark Plug
    May 4, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    When I was in primary and junior high school, the teachers always threatened that if we did not behave, they would write nasty comments on our “permanent record”. Get enough
    nasty comments and bad, though never specified things would “happen”. By
    high school, no one saw any sign of this “permanent record” and so we ignored the threats until graduation when we were all shocked to see someone getting a prize for having a
    “permanent record” that since kindergarten showed him to have both excellent behavior and perfect attendance. My point is that for anyone to take this credit rating seriously, people will have to be publicly made examples of, even if there was no serious misbehavior.

    Anyway MB, if you have not seen this, this article covers two of your favorite topics,
    big data and sex where the “Lay scientist” studies porn metadata. http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2015/apr/30/porn-data-visualising-fetish-space


    • May 4, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      That link is fucking amazing!


      • May 4, 2015 at 11:42 pm

        “layscience” HaHa


      • Rusted Spark Plug
        May 5, 2015 at 1:53 am

        “…fucking amazing!”, perhaps the start of a new fetish category ?


    • Allen Knutson
      May 5, 2015 at 12:08 am

      Wow. I had no idea that Farting was that high a search term, James Joyce aside.


  7. May 5, 2015 at 12:54 am

    I believe this has been going on since the mid 1900’s. It is frightening. And who is to decide what the standards are? Or is it just how wealthy you are, who you know, or who you can pay off. xxo glo


  8. May 5, 2015 at 10:05 am

    “Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it… We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.”

    — Eric Schmidt, former chief executive of Google, October 1st, 2010

    “We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like.“

    — Eric Schmidt, former chief executive of Google, September 7th, 2010

    “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions…They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next… We know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.“

    — Eric Schmidt, former chief executive of Google, August 14th, 2010

    “Your digital identity will live forever… because there’s no delete button.”

    — Eric Schmidt, April 23rd, 2013, speaking to Stephen Colbert on the Colbert Report


  9. DD
    May 12, 2015 at 8:33 am

    I’m sure US is doing the same, just smart enough not to make an announcement *sigh*


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