China became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. American supported the move. There were a few reasons for admitting them to the organization. The first was the belief that there would be an economic gain for America when Chinese markets were fully open to Americans and vice versa. The other reason was the hope that through trade China would become more free under the influence of commerce with America. The economic gain was limited due to the manipulation of the Chinese currency by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and freedom has consistently been squelched in China by the CCP. Obviously, we had good intentions, but we were wrong. Instead of exporting freedom, we may be on the verge of importing their social credits system.
Yesterday The Hill posted an article with the following headline, “Coming soon: America’s own social credit system.”
The article reports:
The new domestic “War on Terror,” kicked off by the riot on Jan. 6, has prompted several web giants to unveil predecessors to what effectively could become a soft social credit system by the end of this decade. Relying on an indirect hand from D.C., our social betters in corporate America will attempt to force the most profound changes our society has seen during the internet era.
China’s social credit system is a combination of government and business surveillance that gives citizens a “score” that can restrict the ability of individuals to take actions — such as purchasing plane tickets, acquiring property or taking loans — because of behaviors. Given the position of several major American companies, a similar system may be coming here sooner than you think.
Last week, PayPal announced a partnership with the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center to “investigate” the role of “white supremacists” and propagators of “anti-government” rhetoric, subjective labels that potentially could impact a large number of groups or people using their service. PayPal says the collected information will be shared with other financial firms and politicians. Facebook is taking similar measures, recently introducing messages that ask users to snitch on their potentially “extremist” friends, which considering the platform’s bias seems mainly to target the political right. At the same time, Facebook and Microsoft are working with several other web giants and the United Nations on a database to block potential extremist content.
The article notes:
The potential scope of the soft social credit system under construction is enormous. The same companies that can track your activities and give you corporate rewards for compliant behavior could utilize their powers to block transactions, add surcharges or restrict your use of products. At what point does free speech — be it against biological males playing in girls’ sports, questioning vaccine side effects, or advocating for gun rights — make someone a target in this new system? When does your debit card get canceled over old tweets, your home loan denied for homeschooling your kids, or your eBay account invalidated because a friend flagged you for posting a Gadsden flag?
The article concludes:
Until and unless there is an organized pushback, our future could track with those of increasingly illiberal societies. Just last week, the British government announced its own version of a health social credit system. China’s system was announced only seven years ago. Considering the growth of algorithms and dependence on tech giants, the ability to track, censor and eventually punish ordinary citizens will be mindboggling by 2030. America’s descent into a 21st century Gilded Age directed by tech titans isn’t an inevitability. However, do you know anyone who would take a 5 percent Amazon coupon in exchange for a “call to action”? Or someone who would replace their Facebook profile picture to avoid being locked out?
Peer pressure, trendy movements, and the ability to comply with the new system with the click of a mouse combine all of the worst elements of dopamine-chasing Americans. As it grows in breadth and power, what may be most surprising about our new social credit system won’t be collective fear of it, but rather how quickly most people will fall in line.
There are several problems with this other than the fact that it totally ignores the freedom and rights of Americans protected under the U.S. Constitution. Who defines extremism? Is extremism the belief in principles that were considered the norm only fifteen years ago–men in men’s sports, women in women’s sports, marriage between one man and one woman, etc.? We are heading down a dangerous path. I am personally aware of someone’s PayPal account being closed because the company became aware that she was in Washington, D.C. on January 6th. She was nowhere near the Capitol Building, but she was in the city. That is what we have to look forward to if we don’t stand up for our Constitutional rights.