Black Mirror appears to be becoming reality in China, where a system based on social status ratings is blocking millions of people from booking flights or trains in Beijing; officially punishments for having a low social status have not yet been clearly defined, but they are expected to be far-reaching.
The Chinese government is looking to monitor its 1.3 billion citizens in a system reminiscent of the Black Mirror episode where social status is rated and ranked. The system, called a “social credit” program, will be fully implemented throughout China by 2020, and will block citizens deemed unworthy from many things – among them booking travel.
As of May, the system had already blocked 11.14 million people from buying flights, 4.25 million from purchasing high-speed train tickets, and 3 million people from getting business class train tickets.
According to the plan, as reported by The Independent, “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.” For the untrustworthy, the plan continues, “everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price.”
People who participate in charity and volunteer work will earn points, while violating laws or working with shoddy business practices will have points deducted. The punishments aren’t clearly defined yet, but are expected to include reduced internet speeds, losing the ability to own pets, stopping certain hotel bookings, and losing access to good schools for families.