Science & Tech
“Map of Deadbeat Debtors”: China Launches New App That Turns Citizens Into Snitches
Officials in China have launched a new app that notifies users if someone within 500 yards of them is in debt.
Dubbed the “Map of Deadbeat Debtors,” the app was launched in Northern China after the Higher People’s Court of Hebei developed it as a means to name and shame debtors, according to China Daily.
Users of the app will be alerted if they are in close proximity to debt and will also be able to tap avatars on a map to access to the name, national identification number and reason why the “deadbeat” made the list.
“It’s a part of our measures to enforce our rulings and create a socially credible environment,” a court spokesman told the state-owned newspaper.
Authorities hope the app will enable people to blow the whistle on debtors who are capable of paying their debts, the newspaper added – essentially turning citizens into snitches who can more easily point the finger at financially irresponsible, or unlucky, compatriots. It remains unclear whether users can actually file a report through the app.
The app joins a suite of new surveillance programs being used in China, including the new social credit system, which attaches a score to various aspects of social life – ranging from paying court fees to drinking alcohol or failing to pay bills – and the deployment of cameras in public housing that are meant to identify and discourage illegal subletting or bar unauthorized residents from entering homes, if need be.
Students’ have also been given “smart uniforms” equipped with tracking chips to end truancy and monitor children’s activities – such as when they fall asleep in class or attempt to leave campus.
Chinese authorities began piloting the development of smart cities equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) in 2012 as a means toward managing chaotic city traffic, making public buildings more energy efficient, and assisting in the implementation of the law, according to state-run newspaper Global Times.
Authorities hope that the new surveillance systems can unobtrusively offer public security and safety to its residents as the highly-populated country grows wealthier and rises in global stature.
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