China Starts “Debt Shaming”: New App Warns Users If They Are Walking Near Someone In Debt

Authorities in the northern Chinese province of Hebei have rolled out an app over WeChat which can tell people if they’re walking near someone in debt, according to China Daily

The program, aptly named “map of deadbeat debtors,” flashes a warning if someone in debt is within a 500-meter radius – showing their exact location according to a screenshot of the app. 

Whether the app reveals the debtors’ names or photos is unknown, nor does China Daily mention how much money is owed or to whom – but according to paper the app allows people to “whistle-blow on debtors capable of paying their debts.”

“It’s a part of our measures to enforce our rulings and create a socially credible environment,” said a spokesman for the Higher People’s Court of Hebei – which is behind the app. 

The “map of deadbeat debtors” is yet the latest in China’s push towards a shame-based “social credit score” system which has already been deployed in several parts of the country. According to a November report, Beijing has an ambitious plan to control China’s citizens through a system of social scoring that punishes behavior it does not approve. 

Some critics warn the new system is fraught with risks and could reduce humans to little more than a report card, said Bloomberg

Hangzhou, the capital city of China’s Zhejiang province, rolled out its social credit system earlier this year, rewarding “pro-social behaviors” such as blood donations, healthy lifestyles, and volunteer work while punishing those who violate traffic laws, smoke and drink, and speak poorly about government. 

By mid-Q2, China had blocked more than 11 million flights and 4 million high-speed train trips for people who had poor social credit scores, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

According to the Beijing plan, different agencies will link databases to get a more detailed picture of every resident’s interactions across a multitude of financial and social platforms

In March, we reported that China had rolled out an advanced facial recognition system over 16 provinces, cities and autonomous regions ominously called “SkyNet” for the “security and protection” of the country, reports Workers’ Daily. 

The system is able to identify 40 facial features, regardless of angles and lighting, at an accuracy rate of 99.8 percent,” reported the People’s Daily. “It can also scan faces and compare them with its database of criminal suspects at large at a speed of 3 billion times a second, indicating that all Chinese people can be compared in the system within only one second.”

Between debt-shaming and skynet, China’s future is looking more and more dystopian as time goes on.