In China, WeChat Can Track the Existence of ‘Bad’ Debtors
The WeChat application is used to find out the existence of 'deadbeat debtors' or debtors who are negligent in paying debts. WeChat, which is popular in China, applies what is called the mini 'Deadbeat Map' program.
WeChat is one of the most used instant messaging applications in the world. The platform has more than 1,000 million active monthly users and offers a wide variety of functions and services, such as the ability to make purchases and online payments, transfer money to friends, order a taxi or food at home or read the daily press.
However, in the West, it has always been in the line of fire, since it is questioned by its practices regarding censorship, privacy and data protection of its users.
The WeChat is being used as a platform for an app that highlights the debtors’ citizens who are close, within an area with a radius of 500 meters. The app was launched in northern China’s Hebei province and shows debtors on a map, potentially to expose and to shame them.
The China Daily report reported that in addition to pointing debtors, it is possible for the app to display information such as the full name, national identification number, and why they ended up in the Chinese SPC. All in an attempt to get people who are able to pay off debts to be discovered and reported.
What some people fear at home and abroad is that a system of “dependability” in Chinese society, based on what is seen in George Orwell’s “1984”, where people are exposed in a national network and demoralized by not fulfilling their obligations to a dictator government.
The new function is part of a series of initiatives promoted by the Chinese government to expose debtors who do not comply with their credit obligations, encouraging municipalities and counties to establish mechanisms using the Internet and mobile applications such as WeChat. This has been done by the Higher People’s Court of Hebei, a province located east of the northern region of the country, implementing the “debtors map.”
What is more precisely known is that China has plans to implement what they call a “social credit system,” in which citizens will be punctuated according to their behavior, including their interaction with public and private agencies, and as your online conduct.
Planned to come into force in 2020, it would be used to rank citizens to offer or deny participation and membership in programs and services. This mini-program is an extension of China’s social credit system, which is expected to provide a personal score of 1.4 billion citizens next year. The China Daily quoted a spokesman from the court as saying it was part of steps to enforce it to create a socially credible environment.
Scores will be determined by state-managed technologies including facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and smart glasses. The score can affect the ability of citizens to travel or own property or even register their children in school. According to the Foreign Policy’s Jamie Horsley, as SCS is currently designed to pose no alarming risks to the privacy and well-being of citizens.