China’s march towards dystopia has taken a very bizarre turn. According to a state-run newspaper, the China Daily, a northern Chinese province called Hebei developed and rolled out an app that notifies people if they are walking near someone in debt.
The app, which they dubbed “map of deadbeat debtors,” warns users if they are within 500-meters of a person who is in debt and shows their exact location on a map. There is no word on whether the app displays any additional information, such as the debtors’ name, his or her photo, how much money they owe and to whom they owe it.
The app can be accessed on WeChat, China’s most popular instant messaging service.
The China Daily said that the app’s purpose was to expose debtors that are able to pay off their debt, although it did not specify how it would be able to determine that fact. My best guess is that the app would somehow integrate with banking records, or it would perhaps crowdsource its info from the lenders themselves.
All Under Heaven
The new service comes as part of the Chinese government’s plan to launch its Social Credit System in 2020, a monstrous national reputation system that ranks the trustworthiness of the country’s 1.3 billion residents. The government has already initiated pilot programs in different parts of the country
It is still unclear how the system calculates these so-called credits, but reports suggest that it takes into account peoples’ location, friends, health records, insurance, private messages, financial position, the time they spend gaming, preferred newspapers, shopping history, and dating behavior.
The program has already affected people. Between June 2018 and January 2019, state media has reported that more than 6,000 people were banned from flying or taking trains for failing to pay their taxes or misbehaving on public transport.