China Will Not Allow People with ‘Bad Social Credit’ on Planes

Mar 16, 2018

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People in China will not be able to travel on planes or trains if they’ve committed recent “social misdeeds,” the Chinese government announced Friday.

The list of “misdeeds” includes things like causing problems on planes, attempting to use expired tickets or smoking on trains and not paying fines, to more nefarious accusations, like spreading false information about terrorism.

Any of these infractions would mean the citizen has “bad social credit,” and would be barred from traveling on planes and/or trains for up to one year, according to statements from China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The country’s aviation regulatory body was also one of eight government ministries that signed the statements.

The new “social credit” system for travel is based on citizens’ trustworthiness and is part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s larger push for the country’s government agencies to gather information on its citizens’ various “social misdeeds.”

Xi Jinping’s guiding principle for the system is “once untrustworthy, always restricted,” the statements said. Other government statements for similar social surveillance programs state the mission of the systems are to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” The Guardian reports.

The larger social credit system in China, supposed to be rolled out by 2020, will attribute penalties to every day occurrences, like the travel infractions or even not caring sufficiently for your parents. This data will theoretically be stored and used to calculate a score that reflects the citizen’s honesty and trustworthiness, which will affect everything from travel plans to job opportunities, according to The Guardian.

The new travel regulations officially go into effect May 1, but Reuters reports the country might have already had a similar travel system using social credit informally in place. China’s Supreme People’s Court said in 2017 that 6.15 million Chinese citizens had been restricted from air travel because of social misdeeds.


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