This is based on statements put forth through the official website of China's National Development and Reform Commission, which also stated that anyone who has committed certain acts, such as spreading false information about terrorism, causing trouble on flights, using expired tickets, and smoking on trains will be among those who are put on the restricted lists. The statements were said to be dated March 2 but weren't issued until March 16.
In case you weren't aware, the Social Credit System is China's unique new method of ranking its citizens based on a number of different factors. Primarily, it is based on online activity and online behavior, for which the government gathers the necessary data about the citizens through the multitude of mobile apps and online services that they use.
China is big on censorship and "dogfooding" as it were – using their very own products instead of those created by competitors or third parties – so a lot of its citizens are using local alternatives to the likes of Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. Even seemingly normal mainstream websites get censored by the "Great Firewall of China," and local alternatives are used by the citizens instead. (Related: “Communist China” now bribing U.S. universities to censor certain types of speech, promote communist ideals.)
China now has less than a month to prepare until the new directive comes into effect on May 1. According to online reports, this move is in line with a bigger plan headed by Chinese President Xi Jinping himself, in which the country will construct a social credit system that is based on the principle of "once untrustworthy, always restricted," as noted by eight different ministries, including the Supreme People's Court and China's aviation regulator.
And although it sounds like a rather grim state of affairs, it appears that many Chinese citizens actually don't mind it at all. In fact, many have seemed to welcome the Social Credit System and are happy to be subjected to it. And as for the plan to punish certain individuals based on their personal scores in the system, there are reports that such methods could have been implemented years ago.
It is said that using social credit scores as the basis of domestic transport restrictions could have been done already in the past, especially since there was already a restricted list for domestic flights being used. In fact, in early 2017, it is said that a total of 6.15 million Chinese citizens were banned from taking flights due to so-called social misdeeds.
Despite the usefulness of such a system when it comes to banning certain individuals from using certain forms of public transportation, it appears that it can quite easily be abused if control of it ever falls into the wrong hands. And who's to say it hasn't already? One can only hope that this isn't just a huge disaster waiting to happen.
Find out more about ongoing censorship scandals in Censorship.news.