Digital “social credit” surveillance is being used by the Chinese government to manipulate its citizens into compliance with politically acceptable behavior.
Those who refuse to comply – whose “social credit” scores fall below the acceptable minimum – are punished with travel restrictions and with other losses of freedom.
The same surveillance technology is now being developed in the U.S. by high-tech Silicon Valley companies.
But some insurance companies and other businesses aren’t waiting for Silicon Valley. They already have their own surveillance tactics in place…
And they’re using them to deny their services to customers who don’t “measure up.”
Let me explain…
Life Insurance. The New York State Department of Financial Services announced last January that life insurers can base the premiums they charge on what they see on their clients’ social media accounts. The announcement was ignored by the mainstream news media.
Airbnb, Inc. – the online marketplace for arranging vacation lodging – monitors the online behavior of its account holders and can disable an account for life for any reason it chooses … and it reserves the right to not give the account holder a reason for the action…
A boilerplate message includes the words, “This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts.”
Uber Technologies, Inc. – the peer-to-peer ridesharing company – now includes a rating system for both riders and drivers in their mobile app. If after several rides, a rider develops an average rating that is “significantly below average,” Uber will ban that rider from using the service.
This type of rating system is actually necessary to protect both drivers and riders…
But what if a small group of riders were to decide they want to put an Uber driver out of business because they perceive the driver is anti-LGBTQ? What recourse would the driver have to protect himself from being banned by Uber?
Consumer protection policies in general are a good thing – unless they are misused or abused – and used to discriminate dishonestly or unlawfully against businesses or customers.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of what could easily become a total social credit surveillance system set up and monitored by the Department of Homeland Security – or some other federal government agency.
Imagine what could happen if this type of rating system were implemented by the federal government across the business community as a means of enforcing the Equality Act – should it pass the Senate and be signed into federal law by a progressive president? See our article on the Equality Act by clicking here.
What’s most disturbing – aside from it being an invasion of privacy – is that such a system operates outside the legal system…
If a social credit surveillance and scoring system becomes a tool of government, it will “change the focus of public law” from the U.S. Constitution “to analytics and algorithm…” This is the conclusion of a prominent law professor at Penn State University.
Think about what this would mean:
- “Criminal” behavior would be defined outside the legislative system. It wouldn’t be open to debate.
- There would be no presumption of innocence.
- No legal representation would be possible.
- There would be no judge or jury.
- There would be no appeal.
- It would be an alternate legal system in which the accused have no rights.
As surveillance and tracking technologies continue to advance and become more sophisticated, we must do two things:
- We must make sure our governments – local, state and national – never create a social credit scoring system akin to what exists in socialist China.
- We must individually take action to protect our online data from being collected by private companies and used against us to deny our access to affordable products and services.
Watch for a future article in this newsletter with tips on how to protect your social media posts and data from abusive data mining.
What do you think? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are the rest of this week’s articles: