Chinese-style social credit system being built in Silicon Valley
A new report has found that many private American companies are increasingly turning to surveillance to keep an eye on their customers.
SILICON VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — Private tech companies in Silicon Valley punishing and rewarding the behavior of their clients in a manner similar to China's social credit system, as detailed in a report by business magazine Fast Company.
Life insurance companies can now base premiums off of a person's social media posts to gauge if a client might indulge in risky activities such as adventurous climbing.
A company called PatronScan uses an ID scanner to help bars and restaurants handle customers and keep banned customers out.
The company has a Banned Patrons list that keeps track of customers who are not welcome if they were previously removed for "fighting, sexual assault, drugs, theft and other bad behavior," according to PatronScan's website.
Airbnb can ban customers for life for any reason it chooses. A message on the company's website notes that it is "not obligated" to explain why action is taken against an account. Uber has a similar policy in which passengers can get banned from using the service if their rating is "significantly below average."
Messaging apps like WhatsApp are also now banning users if they send spam or threatening messages to others. A user's account can be terminated if they have been blocked by too many other users.
This all is eerily reminiscent of China's social credit system, which has been in place since 2014.
Under China's authoritarian government, citizens are assigned "personal trustworthiness points" as a way of monitoring the public and businesses. Trustworthy individuals are given more access to society while individuals who are blacklisted are severely restricted.
These lists are publicly available on a Chinese government website called "Credit China."
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