According to The Washington Post, China has presented its ambitious plan on using Big Data to create a social credit system that takes every bit of information available online, and then giving every person and company "a score based on their political, commercial, social and legal 'credit'.” Critics refer to it as a 21-st century version of Big Brother while others worry that such a system would be "both vulnerable and immensely attractive to hackers."
Lester Ross, partner-in-charge of the Beijing office of law firm WilmerHale, says the rules are designed to stop anyone “stepping out of line” and could intimidate lawyers seeking to put forward an aggressive defense of their clients. He sees echoes of the Cultural Revolution, in which Mao Zedong identified “five black categories” of people considered enemies of the revolution, including landlords, rich farmers and rightists, who were singled out for struggle sessions, persecution and re-education.
Under the social credit plan, the punishments are less severe — prohibitions on riding in “soft sleeper” class on trains or going first class in planes, for example, or on staying at the finer hotels, traveling abroad or sending children to the best schools — but nonetheless far-reaching.
Xuecun’s criticism of the government won him millions of followers on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, until the censors swung into action. He fears the new social credit plan could bring more problems for those who dare to speak out.
“My social-media account has been canceled many times, so the government can say I am a dishonest person,” he said. “Then I can’t go abroad and can’t take the train.”
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