big brother

Big Brother in China, I



scan absurd reminiscent
facial dystopia cutting-edge
piracy privacy surveillance
likely profile whereabouts
access monitor condemn
loan behavior around the clock
ideal location test-phase
coast impact operational
score damage encourage
ration restrict depend (2)
moral institute corruption
lose neglect order (3)
refuse compile standing (2)
install protest based on
rate various experiment
reduce pilot (2) according to
vast majority sail through
huge point (3) disadvantage
option exclude discourage
app date (3) feed/fed/fed (2)
dare hardly automatically
link criticism minority


Video: Big Brother in China, I



Using facial scan to receive a ration of toilet paper?


In Beijing this is already being tested to cut down on the use of toilet paper in public toilets.

It’s just one example of how China is experimenting with cutting-edge surveillance technology.


Not likely: surveillance cameras may soon be installed everywhere. The state wants access to everything. There will be profiles of people’s movements and whereabouts in automatic facial-recognition scanning.

The state is testing a program to monitor people’s behavior: the social credit system.

Katja Levy, Profession: Sinologist FU Berlin: “The future using this system is reminiscent of dystopias, like Orwell’s 1984, or the film Gatica where humans are monitored around the clock.

At present, the system is only in the test-phase and being piloted in forty locations in China.

The government’s plan is to have it fully operational by 2020.”

One of the pilot cities for the social-surveillance experiment is Rongcheng, on China’s east coast.

Cameras have been installed everywhere.

The Chinese government believes it will improve social order and encourage moral behavior and discourage corruption.

This is how the social-credit system is supposed to work.

Every citizen is scored based on their number of points, which rise of fall depending on their behavior: if someone games too much on their computer, they lose points for neglecting their family and damaging their health.

Health data, social behavior, financial standing, media activity. All of this data is compiled from various databases.

Scores have a direct impact on people’s lives. If they have too few points, their travel options are restricted, banks refuse to give them loans and their children won’t get training positions.

Companies are also rated according to the point system.

Mareike Ohlberg, Organization: MERIS China Institute: “The ideals is that the vast majority of people will behave well and have a good rating and sail through the system without problems.

And then there are a small number of citizens who will score badly and will be hugely disadvantaged. But since this will be a small minority who will be socially excluded, there won’t be much protests.”

What makes state surveillance easier is you can hardly do anything in China anymore without a smartphone: apps for shopping, banking, chatting . . . even dating apps are linked to the state authorities.

This data is all fed into the social credit system.

But who would dare to publicly condemn such a system?

Any criticism would automatically reduce your score.


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1. The facial-recognition is used only to monitor “suspicious-looking” people, i.e. potential criminals and terrorists. Is this entirely true, mostly true, yes and no, both, in the middle, largely false or entirely false?

2. Have CCTVs been installed only in sensitive areas like banks, department stores and government buildings?

3. Are people only monitored from seven am to ten pm? Does the professor feel positive and optimistic, or negative and pessimistic?

4. How does the social-credit system operate or function?

5. What is the official government explanation or justification for the surveillance camera network?

6. The officials require a vast network of police and spies to monitor people’s behavior. Is this right or wrong?

7. The government fears there will be massive resistance, demonstrations, sabotage and revolts against the system. Is this correct or incorrect?


A. Are there (lots of) CCTVs or surveillance cameras in your city?

B. Have their numbers and applications increased over the years? What might it be like in the future?

C. Why are they there?

D. Are there disadvantages to this system?

D. What do people think about surveillances?

E. Should people do anything? What can people do?

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