China to launch ‘Black Mirror’ style social credit system by 2020

Rob Waugh
It’s been likened to an episode of Black Mirror, Nosedive (Black Mirror)

It’s been compared to an episode of Charlie Brooker’s nightmarish science fiction series Black Mirror – but in China, ‘social credit’ is about to become reality.

China is set to launch a ‘social credit’ system, which ranks all of the country’s 1.4 billion citizens on their behaviour constantly, in real time, and it’s ‘on track’ for 2020.

Every citizen has a score out of 800, and those with low scores can be refused access to transport, barred from jobs, cut off from education and refused loans.

People with high scores get VIP treatment at airports, access to elite universities and discounted loans.

Tax evasion, crime and even buying alcohol can lower people’s scores – but completing community service or buying Chinese goods can raise people’s scores.

Is Black Mirror becoming a reality? Getty

China’s Communist Party calls the system ‘social credit’, and says that it is on track to be fully operational by 2020, according to ABC.

The move is in line with President’s Xi Jinping’s plan to construct a social credit system based on the principle of ‘once untrustworthy, always restricted’.


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China has flagged plans to roll out a system that will allow government bodies to share information on its citizens’ trustworthiness and issue penalties based on a so-called social credit score.

However, there are signs that the use of social credit scoring on domestic transport could have started years ago.

In early 2017, the country’s Supreme People’s Court said during a press conference that 6.15 million Chinese citizens had been banned from taking flights for social misdeeds.