China Banned People With Low Social Credit From Traveling Millions of Times in 2018

More than 23 million tickets purchases were blocked in China due to social credit offenses.

AP Images

China's controversial social credit system has barred individuals from purchasing plane and train tickets 23 million times in 2018, according to data obtained by the Associated Press.

The travel ban kicked off in May 2018 and would specifically focus on individuals who the government has deemed to be "discredited". A citizen could become discredited if their social credit score drops below a certain undisclosed threshold. Following the ban, individuals were barred from purchasing airline tickets 17.5 million times and train tickets 5.5 million times.

Additionally, as many as 138 individuals were stopped from leaving the People's Republic completely.

Though it's not clear how the Chinese government determines all aspects of the credit system, individuals may see a dip or be publicly shamed on a public-facing government website if they are convicted of a crime, act unruly in public, purchase alcohol, or even play video games too often. Individuals or companies with low social credit scores are subject to being barred from travel (as seen above), bank loans, goods importation, government contracts, and more. One area of the report outlined more than 290,000 incidents where individuals were blocked from taking a senior management role or acting as a legal representative for a company.

At this time, not all areas in China are subject to the social credit system. The Chinese government reportedly began rolling out the system in 2014 to select areas in the country and has been growing it since.

China's social credit system is the result of an initiative dubbed "Golden Shield" which began forming in 1998. Under the project, various initiatives were formed to help shape and monitor society, including the infamous Great Firewall of China. Over the next two and a half decades, the government of China has been expanding its reach in order to satisfy its needs to gather data on its citizens. Its social credit system is aimed to be operational nationwide by 2020.