In George Orwell's seminal work, 1984, he writes about the collapse of freedom into a totalitarian dictatorship. Government authorities and state leader 'Big Brother' watches the people and judges their loyalty. It may be considered the height of 1930s social science fiction writing, but recent changes in Xi Jinping's communist government are translating this from a fictional to an alarming reality.

China creates 'Social Credit System'

In a move that has been lambasted by social justice groups around the world, china has created software and data collection systems that keep track of people’s behavior through social ratings.

It has been designed as a mass form of manipulation designed to influence the choices and decisions of people through social engineering. Those who are unfortunate enough to earn low rankings are seen as ‘dishonest personnel’ with consequential restrictions including blacklisting, refusal of service by hotels and airlines, and the ability to buy a house.

This month, ABC News reported on surveillance software being used by the Chinese government that identifies critical information of drivers by scanning their registrations. The technology has been compared to augmented reality systems like the infamous Google Glass that came under fire for the ethical repercussions of revealing live private data of citizens.

Why its so controversial is that it awards social points for those who perform or act in a community-minded way while punishing and issuing ‘demerits’ for those who disobey the law. Some platforms are even collecting data without proper legal authority.

Further breakdown of the democratic process

When it comes to information regarding China’s business dealings, like the so-called corrupt ‘shadow banking’ systems that are said to be financially undermining the economic viability of the Asian nation, much of the news is censored from public view.

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What we do know, however, compiles a striking list of examples that reveal the breakdown of the democratic process. This includes:

  • Censoring news outlets, journalists, and activists including those who protested during the launch of the new Chinese government in 2012.
  • The removal of term limits from serving presidents which effectively gives President Xi Jinping the right to rule for life. (Effectively overturning constitutional laws created after the Cultural Revolution, that disallowed restricted long terms of office).
  • The ability to purchase private citizen’s information by anyone, including phone tracking of location and accessing banking history without authorization (as allegedly claimed by Chinese paper, Southern Metropolis Daily).