A prominent Berlin-based political scientist warns that China’s massive surveillance and big data program will create a “Big Brother” state like nothing that’s ever been seen, according to a story in the South China Morning Post.
Sebastian Heilmann, who coined the term “digital Leninism,” wrote a book called “Red Swan: How Unorthodox Policy-Making Facilitated China’s Rise,” detailing how the government is transforming the way China operates through technology.
“One such data-driven system that has been ringing alarm bells is the government’s ‘social credit’ platform, which generates ratings for each Chinese citizen, business and authority and affects everything from loan approvals to permission to board flights. The system was introduced in 2014 and is expected to be in place nationwide by 2020.”
The use of security and surveillance technology to track a vast population has the potential to greatly impact privacy and increase control over the average citizen, Heilmann asserted.
“This is more serious than anything we have seen in literature,” Heilmann said. “It’s going beyond what George Orwell had in his vision [in Nineteen Eighty-Four] … because it’s a daily update, something that constantly moves with you, a perfect kind of control mechanism.”
The only upside to the widespread use of technology to track everything is that it might make government more efficient and the country’s development model “more plausible,” as an alternative to the market-based democracy of the West. Heilmann predicts that the system will enable China to compete more aggressively against the West, especially if there’s a major financial crisis, due to its model of government control of the system.
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