China launches big data scheme

China plans to develop a far-reaching social credit system, based on extensive online monitoring, which it hopes will build a culture of “sincerity” and a “harmonious socialist society” where “keeping trust is glorious.”

The ambition is to collect every scrap of information available online about China’s companies and citizens in a single place, and then assign each of them a score based on their political, commercial, social and legal “credit”.

A high-level policy document released in September listed the sanctions that could be imposed on any person or company deemed to have fallen short.

It follows a pilot scheme, launched in Suining County in 2010, which graded citizens from A to D. Residents protested that this was “society turned upside down,” and it was citizens who should be grading government officials.