China’s ‘Social Credit System’ may soon reach Australia

Each person has been assigned a ‘social score’. Photo: ITV

This article was originally published on 26 February 2019 for Free Subscribers and has been made available to the public on 1 May 2019.

China has been developing what some are describing as a chilling digital dictatorship, with a new national system that monitors all citizens on a 24/7 basis and ranks them on their behaviour set to be fully operational by 2020.

Underpinning the new system is the latest advancements in facial recognition and biometric technology, a national model that some argue mirrors new programs currently being introduced in Australia under the guise of ‘safety and security’.

Could Australia be incrementally setting up a blueprint for a similar system here in the future? In the following subscription piece, we explore the latest developments in digital surveillance from both countries.



The Chinese Social Credit System (SCS) is a national reputation system’ being developed by the Chinese government, intended to standardise the assessment of citizen and business economic and social reputation, or ‘credit’.

On June 14, 2014, China’s State Council issued an outline for the national social credit system, translated into English to read “State Council Notice concerning Issuance of the Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014–2020)”.

Under the plan, a person’s ‘social score’ will be continuously analysed and can move up and down depending on their behaviour in society.

Individuals are rated across four areas: “honesty in government affairs”, “commercial integrity”, “societal integrity”, and “judicial credibility”. The Chinese government’s plans includes credit assessment of businesses operating in China.

Active pilot programs have already seen millions of people either begin reap its benefits or suffer its consequences – depending on which end of the scale they sit – with companies already developing IT systems and technology to monitor “antisocial behaviour”.

Underpinning the agenda, points will be lost and gained based on readings from a sophisticated network of 200 million surveillance cameras — a figure set to triple in 18 months.

Within years, an official Party outline claims, it will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”.


The program, since the publishing of the government press release, has seen incremental rollouts across the country, primarily beginning to align in areas such as reform of legislation and business corporate policies.

The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) of China has started a blacklist of debtors with roughly thirty two thousand names, and the People’s Bank of China has licensed eight companies to begin a trial of social credit systems.

The program has been enabled by rapid advances in facial recognition, body scanning and biometric geo-tracking.

Examples of the technology have already been launched across the country, such as ‘Honest Shanghai’ in Shanghai, which uses facial recognition software to browse government records, and rates users accordingly.

Under this new social experiment, those deemed to be “top citizens” are rewarded bonus points, with the benefits including waived deposits on hotels and rental cars, VIP treatment at airports and more.

On the other side of the coin, jaywalking, late payments on bills or taxes, buying too much alcohol or speaking out against the government, each cost citizens points, according to Business Insider.

In November, a detailed plan was produced for further implementation of the program for 2018-2020. The plans included blacklisting people from public transport and publicly disclosing individuals’ and businesses’ untrustworthiness rating.

In January 2019, the Beijing government officially announced that it will start to test “Personal Credit Score”.

Reuters reported that restrictions on citizens and businesses with low Social Credit ratings would come into effect on May 1st, while several million flight and high-speed train trips have been denied to people who have been blacklisted.

Currently, over 13.7 million people are classified as ‘untrustworthy’ under the system, resulting in millions of plane and train tickets being suspended and activities in society restricted.


In Australia, vast changes in surveillance were implemented after the events of September 11th, which saw many countries pass legislation that gives police and intelligence services greater powers and resources as a result.

Sweeping legislative changes and broad anti-terror laws have effectively sanctioned powerful surveillance methods, including the development of vast biometric capabilities for government and the private sector.

Increasingly, we are seeing new programs and technologies be developed as a means of ‘security’ or to ‘prevent terrorism’, such as national databases and increased sharing between domestic and international intelligence communities – particularly the Five Eyes Alliance.

Biometric systems were introduced in Australia at the turn of the century, and specific focus was given to the agenda following the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003.

Australia is already beginning to develop and implement biometric identification systems all across the country, particularly in schooling, workplaces, airports and public transport.


A multitude of systems are being developed in varied avenues of Australian society to monitor, analyse, judge and identify individuals for a number of reasons.

The Australian government recently unveiled new details surrounding highly controversial changes to ‘anti-terrorism’ measures in late 2017, including the introduction of a new national facial recognition system.

This will include all states and territories handing over driver’s licenses and passport photos for a national identification database, allowing for real-time facial recognition when matched to state CCTV footage, bypassing current state restrictions and laws on obtaining such information.

Australia’s leading privacy and civil liberties organisations have called the comprehensive database ‘fundamentally incompatible with a free and open society’.

This new national system parallels the central underlying mechanism operating China’s SCS – that being facial recognition capabilities to monitor individuals in real time and rank them according to their behaviours.

The agenda is being coupled with rapid shifts towards a cashless society and digital licenses and identity in Australia, as well as sister programs such as the controversial My Health Record.


Last week, Perth Airport became Australia’s second international airport to begin installing new facial recognition smart gates, following previous pilot trials introduced at Canberra Airport.

The Australian government has stated their intended goal is to automate 90% of air traveller processing by 2020, and is on track to replace passports with biometric capabilities after signing new contracts with technology vendors for a national roll out

Will this lead to a system where individuals can be banned from flights based off their digital biometric records?

Furthermore, multiple Australian capitals are now implementing ‘smart city initiatives’, such as Darwin, Newcastle and Melbourne, with new CCTV surveillance and lighting capabilities.

Facial recognition technology was deployed across the Gold Coast public transport network early last year, including trains, trams and buses at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, and will remain in place indefinitely following the event.

Finally, public transport commuters in Queensland will soon be able to use their faces as a ticket to board trains and buses in the near future, after it was announced that trials will commence to replace the current ‘Go Card’ digital network with facial recognition technology.

This is only scratching the surface. We have covered this extensively since 2012 in our Intelligence category on the website.

Does this all sound strikingly familiar to you? What are we seeing unfold?

Both of these avenues are means to monitor both domestic and international travel, with the underlying national facial recognition system to enforce the new systems.

Many civil liberty campaigners and privacy advocates have expressed concerns at similarities between technology being introduced in Australia and the framework of China’s ‘Social Credit System’.


This information has been taken from our latest membership piece, Australia: The Biometric Dystopia Cometh, and has been made available for Free Subscribers of our website.

In the following membership piece, we take a look at the rise of a new age technological dystopia, including the history and development of biometrics and biometric technology, monitoring characteristics, the modern digital era in Australia and more on China’s ‘Social Credit System’.

Subscriber Content is a new concept we are introducing that consists of feature pieces containing specific focuses or individual topics from Member Content, which looks to explore deeper questions relating to the public themes we publish about.





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4 Comments on “China’s ‘Social Credit System’ may soon reach Australia”

  1. Chris Atty
    February 27, 2019 at 13:46 #

    You can’t make this up. They are very cunning I give them that. Sporadically introducing things like this around the country to reduce public backlash and before you know it they have all bases covered. 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

    • DarkShire333
      March 5, 2019 at 15:25 #

      Incremental design cause we aren’t as soft as the commies!! Not on my watch!!

    • March 12, 2019 at 15:57 #

      Evil is committed under a veil of darkness and secrecy. Setting up by stealth.


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