China is contemplating the creation of a Social Credit System in which privileges and penalties less significant than incarceration or a fine would flow from data compiled about a person in a manner similar to a credit report based upon the extent to which they made pro-social or reputable or anti-social or disreputable choices (that are not themselves illegal) in their lives.
[I]n 2014 the Chinese government announced it was developing what it called a system of “social credit.” In 2014, the State Council, China’s governing cabinet, publicly called for the establishment of a nationwide tracking system to rate the reputations of individuals, businesses, and even government officials. The aim is for every Chinese citizen to be trailed by a file compiling data from public and private sources by 2020, and for those files to be searchable by fingerprints and other biometric characteristics. The State Council calls it a “credit system that covers the whole society.”
For the Chinese Communist Party, social credit is an attempt at a softer, more invisible authoritarianism. The goal is to nudge people toward behaviors ranging from energy conservation to obedience to the Party. Samantha Hoffman, a consultant with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London who is researching social credit, says that the government wants to preempt instability that might threaten the Party. “That’s why social credit ideally requires both coercive aspects and nicer aspects, like providing social services and solving real problems. It’s all under the same Orwellian umbrella.”
Would such a system violate any of the freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution if implemented at either the federal or the state level in the United States? (Assume that exemptions for data collection by this system were enacted in various federal and state statutes that might otherwise prohibit the creation of such a system.)
If it would violate any of those freedoms (e.g. freedom of religion by collecting information on church attendance), what aspect of the system would violate them and could those violations be excluded from the system while still leaving something similar in place?