China is building a digital prison… When late library returns are a crime… Bill Bonner – “It’s 1984, just 34 years late”… In the mailbag: “To the Four Horsemen of Hope…”
You have a business appointment in another city. You get to the airport early, just in case. You walk up to the check-in desk. But something is wrong…
The young lady behind the counter says you can’t board your flight. Or any other flight. Your “social credit” score is too low.
You protest. But she insists.
“Government orders,” she informs you apologetically. “You’re on a ‘restricted list’ for the next year.”
But this isn’t a dystopian sci-fi fantasy… It’s real life for hundreds of millions of people in China.
The Chinese feds call it the Social Credit System. It’s been in pilot mode in different areas around the country since 2014. And it’s built around a mix of digital surveillance, artificial intelligence (AI), and big data.
Beijing claims it’s a tool to strengthen the country’s socialist principles. In reality, it’s a mass digital surveillance system on a scale never seen before.
If you’ve been following us, you’re already familiar with this concept…
As we explained last week, our mission at The Daily Cut is to keep you on top of the latest insights from legendary newsletter men Bill Bonner, Doug Casey, Jeff Clark, Teeka Tiwari, and their handpicked teams of analysts.
And the most important story we’re tracking is how Silicon Valley is working with U.S. spy agencies in the Northeast Corridor to create a mass digital surveillance state in America.
Think of the Social Credit System as a giant reputation network.
Every citizen is assigned a social credit score. This score goes down if you do something the government deems “antisocial.”
As Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported…
Acts that can earn you a place on the blacklist… include smoking on public transport and using expired tickets, as well as more sweeping and vaguely defined violations such as “spreading false information about terrorism.”
It’s part of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s plan to build a digital surveillance, and behavior modification, system based around the principle of “once untrustworthy, always restricted.”
You see, a poor credit score is a punishable offense.
Chinese state-run newspaper Global Times says there have already been more than 11 million instances where Chinese citizens have been stopped from boarding flights due to poor social credit scores.
It also reported that there have been more than 4 million similar instances on trains.
Three U.S. credit-score companies – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – keep track of your creditworthiness by monitoring as much data as they can about your financial life.
This includes your credit card balances… your outstanding mortgage debts… your cellphone contracts… even the money coming into and out of your bank accounts.
They then turn this into a FICO score. If you’ve got a low score, you’re going to have trouble getting an auto or home loan.
That’s how China’s Big Brother system started, too.
Here’s how the government’s official news agency, Xinhua, described one of the first pilot projects of the Social Credit System in the Yangtze River Delta region…
The national pilot plan… is expected to help nurture a sound business and social environment in the region and regulate individual behavior based on credit records.
Under the system, trustworthy entrepreneurs and individuals will be rewarded, while infringers will be discredited.
Back then, it was about keeping track of Chinese citizens’ financial lives.
Today, Beijing isn’t just peering into folks’ financial records. It’s looking at every aspect of their lives.
And it docks their social credit scores for “crimes” such as jaywalking, returning library books late, possessing frowned-upon religious or political materials… even insufficient patriotism.
It gets even worse, says Bill Bonner Letter coauthor Dan Denning. The Chinese are also using facial recognition technology to spot “crimes” – even when there are no human witnesses. Dan…
China has launched something called the Xue Liang project, which is piloting now in Chongqing.
Xue Liang can be translated as “Sharp Eyes.” The idea is to use facial recognition software and AI to turn the security cameras that already scan roads, shopping malls, and airports into a kind of panopticon – an all-seeing eye.
The project, if successful, will know where 1.4 billion Chinese are, what they’re doing, and if they’re breaking the law.
And as you’ve probably guessed… these cameras are feeding into the Social Credit System.
The U.S. government – the supposed leader of the free world – is already doing something similar. Dan again…
Most recently, the U.S. military created biometric databases on everyone living in Iraq and Afghanistan. Four million Iraqis and two million Afghanis were catalogued and recorded in biometric databases so the U.S. military could create a “social graph” of who was likely to be a terrorist.
That’s no different from what’s happening in China with the Xue Liang project. And guess what… To get its project up and running, the Chinese government is working closely with Silicon Valley start-ups.
And as we told you in our inaugural issue on Monday, Google and Facebook are keeping track of everything you do online.
As Bill puts it, “This is all coming together. It’s 1984, just 34 years late.”
Tomorrow, we’ll show you how a group of computer developers and entrepreneurs are working on ways to fight back against this kind of digital snooping.
As you’ll see, they’re harnessing the technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to keep your data away from the prying eyes of Big Government and Big Tech.
So keep an eye out for that in your inbox tomorrow…
In Monday’s Daily Cut, we asked you if we should have given in to Google’s censors and taken down Bill Bonner’s essay about how the feds have hollowed out parts of Baltimore with their win-lose deals.
And your answers keep pouring in…
Your ongoing exposure of the Deep State and what is behind it is more valuable than I could have imagined.
Hell, no! You do not stop and give in. When the sh*t hits the fan ultimately – if things really do get bad – the Deep State will “reign” over nothing. Please continue. – Philippa O.
I suspect that the folks who want to keep me insulated believe that I cannot read between the lines.
I would hope they might let me have options, even their misguided ones. But they would rather protect me by removing all opposing options by killing the messengers.
I guess they are pretty confident in their own brand of messenger bludgeoning. As of the moment, they have not asked me for support in their book burning.
Keep up the good fight. Most of us seem to know that the devil is in the details and we can pretty much find those on our own unless the nanny minders find a way to block our access to your helpful offerings. – Herbert M.
To the Four Horsemen of Hope: Keep up the good work! No, you should not take down Bill’s letter! Nor should you (or we) succumb to what amounts to censorship.
Yes, Google is a private company and as such, I support its right to choose what will or won’t be done. However, it seems that the “choice” made was heavily influenced by Deep State three-letter entities, in the name of “National Security.”
What a travesty – that so-called “National Security” now involves privacy and censorship! I think it was Ben Franklin who said it best: If you give up personal freedoms in the name of liberty, you don’t deserve either one.
Thank you for continuing to express and publish “alternative perspectives” that provide hope as well as information. – Jim W.
Are you taking steps to protect your liberties… including your right to digital privacy? Tell us all about it at [email protected].
August 22, 2018
P.S. If you haven’t already, be sure to read the private message we sent you last week.
We laid out why legendary newsletter men Bill Bonner, Doug Casey, Teeka Tiwari, and Jeff Clark got together to create The Daily Cut… and why it should be at the top of your reading list every day.