China banned 23 million people from buying plane or train tickets last year because their social credit scores were too low, according to the Associated Press, which obtained a copy of a government report.
The government implemented a travel ban for people with low social credit scores last May. According to a report by China’s National Public Credit Information Center last week, 17.5 million people were prevented from buying plane tickets, while 5.5 million were unable to buy high-speed train tickets. These people had been “discredited” for unspecified behavioral offenses. According to China’s Supreme Court, that’s because only 6.15 million citizens were unable to take flights as of 2017.
The Chinese government plans to create an archive for every citizen by 2020
As part of the system, the Chinese government also employs a public blacklist of those who have been convicted of crimes in court and punishes them in part by limiting their ability to buy plane and train tickets.
Social credit scores are also supposed to help prevent nuisance behaviors on public transportation, such as a case where a passenger took someone else’s reserved seat and refused to get up. The video of the passenger refusing to budge went viral, with Chinese users calling for more punishments for people who act this way.
The Chinese government has independent policies to monitor individuals and punish bad behavior. Your social ranking in the eyes of the government could be lowered if you evade taxes, cheat others, make false advertisements, or take extra seats on the train. Currently, every time a person passes through a checkpoint, such as when crossing into another city or entering and leaving China, they are already asked for fingerprints and identification.
Once the files have been successfully collected, it is hoped that authorities can search for them based on fingerprints and other biometric data. By 2020, China aims to have a file with all Chinese citizens that includes all collected data on their behavior, according to publicly available government documents found here.