Life behind the WiFi Curtain

China's social credit score system forms an impenetrable virtual barrier

Dubbed the “WiFi Curtain”, China’s mandatory social credit score system, which went live last month is shaping up to be the 21st Century’s answer to the Iron Curtain.

Chinese citizens trying to escape the restrictive system, which punishes bad behaviour by limiting access to top jobs, credit and other perks, have realized that they are now effectively trapped inside the new, invisible Chinese Wall. A particularly poor social credit score completely prohibits citizens from traveling by air, or even using the public transport system.

What is more, thanks to China’s advanced voice and facial recognition databases and AI tracking systems, even citizens who try to leave the country on foot are soon identified and stopped by the WiFi curtain. The WiFi curtain, of course, is made up of 176 million public surveillance cameras and the army of Google Glass equipped state officials that patrol the length and breadth of the country.

Says Wang Wei, a 48-year-old man who was stopped from boarding a plane bound for Australia last week due to his poor credit score: “I should have known better. If only I had chosen to read more improving literature, rather than those ’50 Shades of Grey’ ebooks I bought from Alibaba last Singles Day, I would be with my grandchild right now. I guess the comment I posted about Xi Jinping on Qzone didn’t help either!”

Other nation states rumoured to be adopting a similar social credit score system, using the same Sesame Credit technical infrastructure in the near future, include China’s primary BRICs trading partners, India and Russia, in addition to Vietnam and North Korea.

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