https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-future/c ... -americans
China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans
China is launching a comprehensive “credit score” system, and the more I learn about it, the more nightmarish it seems. China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, “authoritarianism, gamified.” Read this piece for the full flavor—it will make your head spin. If that and the little other reporting I’ve seen is accurate, the basics are this:
1.Everybody is measured by a score between 350 and 950, which is linked to their national identity card. While currently supposedly voluntary, the government has announced that it will be mandatory by 2020.
2.The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people’s social ties and activities and what they say.
3.In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance. Among the things that will hurt a citizen’s score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tienanmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse.
4.It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them. Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create.
5.Anybody can check anyone else’s score online. Among other things, this lets people find out which of their friends may be hurting their scores.
6.Also used to calculate scores is information about hobbies, lifestyle, and shopping. Buying certain goods will improve your score, while others (such as video games) will lower it.
7.Those with higher scores are rewarded with concrete benefits. Those who reach 700, for example, get easy access to a Singapore travel permit, while those who hit 750 get an even more valued visa.
8.Sadly, many Chinese appear to be embracing the score as a measure of social worth, with almost 100,000 people bragging about their scores on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
A few years ago I wrote a piece about how the fall of the Soviet Union, for all its benefits, has made it harder to defend privacy in the United States. During the Cold War, I argued, we defined ourselves in opposition to an enemy that exemplified and embodied in very real form the nightmarish potential of widespread surveillance and control. This made it easy to point to surveillance and shout, “un-American!”
We have thankfully seen the end of the old totalitarian regimes, but often they have been replaced by authoritarian regimes, which operate with free markets and greater personal freedom, but continue to apply just enough power to stave off threats to their rule. Arrests, beatings, imprisonment, and shootings are such crude tools for the silencing of political opposition and dissent—so much subtler and more effective to pressure people, to turn the exercise of power from a hammer, striking the body politic from without, into a drug, which permeates social life from within and shapes it in the desired directions. In today’s world, all the tools are in place to allow a government to do just that in stunningly subtle yet powerful ways, and the Chinese government appears to be wasting no time in exploiting that potential to the fullest.
The United States is a much different place than China, and the chances that our government will explicitly launch this kind of a program any time in the near future is nil, but there are consistent gravitational pulls toward this kind of behavior on the part of many public and private U.S. bureaucracies, and a very real danger that many of the dynamics we see in the Chinese system will emerge here over time. On the government side, for example I have written about how the TSA’s airline passenger “whitelist” system could evolve in this direction. In the private sector, Frank Pasquale notes that elements of its judgment-and-reward system already exist in the U.S. private-sector credit scoring infrastructure.
I hope this new Chinese system becomes household knowledge in the United States, and can provide the kind of widely recognized paradigm for what to avoid and how not to be that the old totalitarian regimes used to give us. At the ACLU we are constantly warning of the dangers of abuses of power, and often the dangers we cite, while well-founded, consist of potential futures, leading critics to say we’re being “merely theoretical.” With this Chinese system, a whole range of things we’ve warned about are no longer theoretical.
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/01 ... te_humans/
Slander-as-a-service: Peeple app wants people to rate and review you – whether you like it or not
Apparently the interwebs are already slandering the intelligence of the Peeple founder's idea, which they are unhappy about.This could be the most odious idea the internet manages in 2015: Peeple is an app that lets people rate other people, whether they like it or not, and plans to launch in November.
The Yelp-like defamation-as-a-service – someone can put you in a database that you can't be taken off, rate you 1-to-5, and comment on you as a person – was conceived by Nicole McCullough and Julia Cordray.
Even The Washington Post, which got the PR drop, couldn't manage to miss the nasty potential of Peeple.
“Unfortunately for the millions of people who could soon find themselves the unwilling subjects — make that objects — of Cordray’s app, her thoughts do not appear to have shed light on certain very critical issues, such as consent and bias and accuracy and the fundamental wrongness of assigning a number value to a person,” WashPo's Caitlin Dewey writes.
The “features” (a word surely in need of its antonym by now) of the service also include:
Opt-out: There is none. If someone puts you into the service so as to give you a low rating, tough. That's almost certainly a breach of privacy principles in some countries, but you can bet the terms and conditions will tell you the service will be covered by the laws of the State of California (or perhaps Delaware).
Self-defence: You can respond to a nasty-gram, but Peeple won't delete stuff just because it's unbiased, unfair, or flat-out untrue.
Security: Who knows? We're merely promised that the data will be stored in a secured Mongo database in the cloud.
The service promises to quarantine bad reviews for two days, giving the victim a chance to contact the reviewer and ask “why don't you like me?” – a mechanism which is, to The Register, far out-of-whack with real human behaviour.
And yes, Peeple wants its service to be used by employers and recruiters. A press release on its site – too cool for individual links, alas – says: “ This app will allow us to better choose who we hire, do business with, date, let babysit our kids, become our neighbors, roommates, landlords/tenants, and teach our children.”