Social credit system: Dystopian nightmare or mundane regulatory law?


Scholar of Chinese law Jeremy Daum has been on a one-man mission to demystify China’s social credit system. His rage at inaccurate reporting on the subject finally got to him, and he has recorded a podcast:

You’ve probably seen an article or watched a show about China’s social credit system and chances are it also mentioned Orwell or Black Mirror somewhere in there.

In a recent speech US Vice President Pence even mentioned social credit as a violation of human rights right alongside internet censorship, religious persecution and mass detentions in Xinjiang, calling it “an Orwellian system premised on controlling virtually every facet of human life.” Wow!

The thing is that over the last year I’ve spent a good amount of time looking at China’s social credit systems, writing articles and translating lots of relevant legal authority, and the reality of social credit that I found through that research, and by living in China, just isn’t that exciting. It’s pretty mundane regulatory law with only a few new wrinkles.

Listen to the whole thing or read the transcript here. If the social credit system interests you, I also recommend this article on What’s on Weibo — here is an excerpt:

There’s been much talk about China’s ‘credit score’ recently, with many media conflating the country’s social credit system with the commercial Sesame Credit programme. In this article, we will explain the latter: what is Sesame Credit and what can users do with their high score?