Black Mirror in China: City Trials Smartphone App for Rating Residents' Behavior With Bonuses, Penalties

Each of the residents starts having a score of 1,000 and there are rewards and plus-points for volunteering, minus for running a red light, as per reports

A city in China has triggered outrage after the authorities decided to score the citizens' behavior through a smartphone app that keeps a track of people's everyday lives. The officials of Suzhou introduced the rating system, which is loosely translated as the 'Civility Code' for encouraging people to become model citizens in the eye of the government, according to reports.

Each of the residents starts with a score of 1,000 and there are rewards and plus-points for volunteering, minus for running a red light, as per the app. The new plan of the city was widely criticized by Chinese social media users. Many people called it suffocating and pointless and several compared it with popular British TV series Black Mirror.

Residents Under Surveillance

Chinese People
Chinese People (Representational Image) Pixabay

This comes at a time when China is facing criticism from around the world over the use of artificial intelligence for monitoring citizens amid the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic. The residents were ordered to use a smartphone app that evaluates health conditions. The new scoring system of Suzhou is composed of a 'traveling index', a 'volunteering index' as well as other indicators, as reported by Global Times.

The traveling index is linked to the manners on-road and also one's traffic violation records whereas the volunteer index is measured by a person's engagement in volunteering work. The system targets to generate a personal portrait for each resident and promote good habits, the authorities mentioned in a statement.

The officials responded to the criticism received from people saying that the system is still in a trial phase and is going to be introduced again when it gets fully developed. They also said that the public had misunderstandings about the system. The country has also been building a mass surveillance network that boasts millions of street cameras. The surveillance network is one of the world's most powerful ones.

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