Social Credit System being tested in China; could the U.S. be next?

    Courtesy: Sinclair Broadcast Group

    WASHINGTON - From what we eat to where we go to who our friends are, the data collected on each of us is expansive, according to the former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.

    “They know who your friends are what your friends do what you’re doing online. Now when you have facial recognition they can tell where you’re going,” said Chertoff.

    In China information like this is used to give each person what’s called a "social credit score," where every move you make is monitored and scored.

    If your score gets too low, you may be prevented from getting a job, traveling by air or high speed rail and it may even hurt your children’s chances of getting into college.

    "It makes George Orwell’s 1984 look like child's play," Chertoff added.

    The program is currently being tested in China with an official roll out date of 2020, for the purpose of “carrying forward sincerity and traditional virtues, it uses encouragement to keep trust and constraints against breaking trust as incentive mechanisms," according to a document from China Copyright and Media.

    Chertoff, who now runs the security consulting company The Chertoff Group, says there are already glimpses of social scoring here in the United States.

    "We’re beginning to see it already where insurance companies affect your premium based on whether you’re eating healthy, getting a good night’s sleep or getting enough exercise," he said, adding that the need for Congress to act is urgent.

    But Chertoff said the emphasis needs to change from how do we keep things confidential, and instead pass laws that focus on who controls the data once it’s been generated.

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