The Chinese Government has developed a mobile app that tells users if they are near someone who is in debt. The app, called a “map of deadbeat debtors,” flashes when the user is within 500 meters of a debtor and displays that person’s exact location.
News of the app has caused quite a bit of controversy after it was originally reported by the state-run China Daily. It is an extension to China’s existing “social credit” system which scores people based on how they act in public. It’s no secret that China keeps a very close watch on its citizens, but this new public shaming approach takes it one step further.
The app is available through the WeChat platform which has become immensely popular in China. The government stated that “Deadbeat debtors in North China’s Hebei province will find it more difficult to abscond as the Higher People’s Court of Hebei on Monday introduced” the app.
Once a user is alerted that they are close to a debtor, the user can then view their personal information. This will reveal their name, national ID number, and why they were added to the debtor list. The debtor can then be publicly shamed or reported to the authorities if it is deemed that they are capable of repaying their debts.
The full social credit system will be operational in 2020 when plans indicate will be used to bar people with low scores from traveling, getting loans, and getting jobs. A person’s score can be lowered if they do things like playing an excessive amount of video games or posting fake news. On the other hand, a social credit score can be raised by things like volunteering or donating blood.