Bologna, Italy, announced it will begin a “social credit” app that is being compared to China’s Social Credit System.
The plan was announced by the city’s mayor, Matteo Lapore, in March.
In a statement, he said: “[W]e will start with a pilot project for the city: at the center is the virtuous citizen, the one who, for example, separates waste well or does not waste energy, or uses public transport and does not take fines, or is still active with the Bologna Welcome Card.”
He went on to say, “The Municipality says to these people we will assign you a score, as part of a circular reward with economic benefits to individual users.”
The concept is similar to a traditional credit score, intended to reflect a person’s ability to repay certain debts, including college loans, credit card payments, or mortgages.
According to the mayor’s quote, the proposed system involves rewarding citizens for “good behavior,” as well as potentially punishing those who engage in “negative behavior.”
Critics believe that the system could eventually limit the freedoms of Bolognese citizens. For example, in 2018, a young man was accepted into a Chinese university. Before he attended classes, he was suspended at the government’s behest because of his father’s low social credit score.
The father owed ¥20,000 to the Bank of China. After the son’s suspension, the father paid his debt, and the university reinstated the student.
In China, there are many benefits to having a high social credit score, including renting a bike without paying a deposit, better access to a mortgage, and half-priced bus fares.