A Glimpse of America’s Future

Britain used to be the country towards which I looked when I wanted to see what creepy surveillance technology was soon coming to the United States. The British government has a long, proud history of surveilling everything its subjects do. But Britain is falling behind the surveillance game. There’s a new king in town and that king is China:

Chinese authorities claim they have banned more than 7 million people deemed “untrustworthy” from boarding flights, and nearly 3 million others from riding on high-speed trains, according to a report by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.

The announcements offer a glimpse into Beijing’s ambitious attempt to create a Social Credit System (SCS) by 2020 — that is, a proposed national system designed to value and engineer better individual behaviour by establishing the scores of 1.4 billion citizens and “awarding the trustworthy” and “punishing the disobedient”.

China’s Social Credit System is the next step in surveillance. Britain and the United States have been doing something similar. For example, in the United States the information gathered about you by the government can land you on a no-fly list, which then prevents you from boarding aircraft. However, these efforts have been chump change compared to what China is doing. Unfortunately, what China is doing is technologically feasible by both Britain and the United States. All of the required surveillance technology is already in place. All that is needed is tying those surveillance devices into a domestic social credit system.

I won’t be surprised if the United States implements a similar system within a decade. The country has certainly been moving in that direction since at least the beginning of the Cold War and has pushed the pedal to the metal since 9/11.