Can you imagine a world where playing video games or badmouthing David Cameron brought your credit score down? I don’t know about you, but by now I’d have been blacklisted by every credit agency in the country (as would most of my – and your – facebook friends). Yet if you live in China, this is already set to become a reality.

In a plan that could only have been taken from the fever dreams of every culture critic screaming “1984’s just around the corner”, the Chinese government are using Big Data to set up a national credit score system that falls based not only on whether you play video games or post political comments “without prior approval”, but also on whether any of your friends do that as well.

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Higher credit scores reap more social benefits: 600 points gets you instant loan approval for amounts up to £500, at 650 you can rent cars without a deposit, at 700 you get fast-tracked for Singapore travel permits, and an even higher score gets you to Europe and elsewhere. The score isn’t mandatory yet but it will be by 2020, and they’re available to view already.

There’s no doubt that this is an attempt to exercise government control over the Chinese people with financial incentives. If you want to do well in society you’d better tow the party line, and make sure all your family, friends and neighbours do as well – the Communist Party has effectively crowdsourced thought policing.

“But Tom, we’re nowhere near as bad as China” I hear you say, and that’s certainly true. The UK government wouldn’t get away with something so blatant out in the open…yet.

Read more (external link)

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