China has banned millions of people from any number of activities for being labeled as 'untrustworthy' on the country's Orwellian social credit system.
Banned from things such as air and train travel, blacklisted individuals are being punished in a broad effort to boost "trustworthiness" among the 1.4 billion Chinese citizens tracked by the massive system - which assigns both positive and negative scores to various metrics, reports SCMP.
People with great social credit will get "green channel" benefits while those who violate laws will be punished with restrictions and penalties.
Hangzhou, the capital city of China’s Zhejiang province, rolled out its social credit system earlier last year, rewarding "pro-social behaviors" such as blood donations, healthy lifestyles, and volunteer work while punishing those who violate traffic laws, smoke and drink, and speak poorly about government.
Human rights advocates have voiced concerns that the social credit system does not take into account individual circumstances, and has unfairly labeled people and companies as untrustworthy.
Over 3.59 million Chinese enterprises were added to the official creditworthiness blacklist last year, banning them from a series of activities, including bidding on projects, accessing security markets, taking part in land auctions and issuing corporate bonds, according to the 2018 annual report released by the National Public Credit Information Centre. -SCMP
According to the NPCIC report, Chinese officials collected 14.21 million pieces of information of "untrustworthy conduct" by both business and individuals - including failure to repay loans, illegal fund collection, false and misleading advertising, swindling customers, and - for individuals, acts such as taking reserved seats on trains or causing trouble in hospitals, SCMP reports.
Meanwhile, around 17.46 million people who are "discredited" were prevented from buying plane tickets, while 5.47 million were disallowed from purchasing tickets to China's high-speed train system.
Besides restrictions on buying tickets, local authorities also used novel methods to put pressure on untrustworthy subjects, including preventing people from buying premium insurance, wealth management products or real estate, as well as shaming them by exposing their information in public.