6/29/2019

China’s Social Credit System Is More Kafka Than Orwell

"What if you built a terrifying 21st century surveillance-and-control system and no one cared?

That’s what appears to be happening with China’s social-credit program. The plan gives citizens a credit score similar to those calculated by the likes of Experian Plc, but then adds rewards and penalties for behavior. That means your ability to buy railway tickets and get preferential rates on a loan could be contingent on whether you drop litter, park your car illegally – or even, in theory, criticize the government on social media.

This is often regarded as a sort of Orwellian nightmare, giving a monolithic government minute control over the lives of its citizens. In truth, though, it’s more like the nonsensical, disorganized oppression experienced by the protagonists of Franz Kafka’s stories."