China's 'social credit' system could lead to throttled internet speeds

China's 'social credit' system could lead to throttled internet speeds

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China's Communist Party is said to be trialling a social credit system that could see slowed internet connectivity as a possible punishment.

The National Credit Information Sharing Platform (NCISP) has been in development by the Chinese Communist Party since 2014, with the aim of monitoring the moral behaviour of its citizens and score them based on their "social credit."

According to a government document published in 2015,  the new social structure aims to “forward the construction of sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and judicial credibility as main content, take moving forward the construction of an sincerity culture and establishing mechanisms to encourage sincerity and punish insincerity as focal points”.

According to the South China Morning Post The database for this new social ranking will be managed by China's economic planning team, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the People's Bank of China, as well as the Chinese court system.

The new ranking system will be used for both individuals and well as private companies and government organisations. And just as with private credit scores a person can improve their score depending on this behaviour.

Social credit offences include bad driving, smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and spending too long playing video games, making frivolous purchases, posting on social media and posting fake news online.

As for punishments these include travel bans, not being allowed to go to restaurants, renting a home, having insurance, exclusion from higher education and slow internet.

According to Rachel Botsman, author of Who Can You Trust? "People with low ratings will have slower internet speeds; restricted access to restaurants and the removal of the right to travel".

Drawing parallels to ongoing net neutrality debate that has been going on in the West for years, those with low social credit scores could suffered from throttled internet connectivity as result, a move that has a fear in the West but for those who have the funds to pay for superior access.

“Digital authoritarians often adopt the principle of cyber sovereignty — control over the internet within a nation’s own borders. This runs counter to the founding principles of the internet, which are net neutrality and the unfettered flow of information,” writes Lydia Khalil, Research Fellow, West Asia Program, Lowy Institute.

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