Chinese dog owners are being assigned a social credit score to keep them in check — and it seems to be working

  • The eastern Chinese city of Jinan has been enforcing a “Civilized Dog-Raising Credit Score System” to rank responsible dog owners.
  • The system, introduced last year, gives owners a “licence” with points that can be deducted if the dog is walked without a leash or causes public disturbances.
  • The system appears to be effective, as more owners have put their dogs on a leash and cleaned up after them.
  • In the last few years, China has introduced several social ranking systems, including an app in Shanghai which rates people’s honesty, and a bike share platform which rewards citizens for good behaviour.
  • China is also gearing up for its mandatory social credit system that will monitor the behaviour of its entire population by 2020.

Keep your dog on a leash. Make sure your pet doesn’t bark. Clean up after them.

These are the rules that have been enforced over the last year in Jinan, eastern China, which launched its “Civilized Dog-Raising Credit Score System” system to enforce responsible dog ownership, according to Sixth Tone.

Over the last few years, China has introduced several social ranking systems, including an app in Shanghai that rates people’s honesty, and a bikeshare platform which rewards citizens for good behaviour.

Most notably, China is setting up a mandatory country-wide ranking system system that will monitor the behaviour of its enormous population, and rank them all based on their “social credit.” The vast program is due to be fully operational by 2020, but pilot programs have already taken off across several cities.

How it works

Jinan’s dog credit system is similar to the other ranking systems that are proliferating across the country, and aims to improve people’s behaviour.

The program, launched January 2017, is compulsory and gives registered dog owners a licence that begins with 12 points, according to Sixth Tone.

Points are deducted for things like walking the dog without a leash or collar, not cleaning up after them, and neighbourhood disturbances. Good deeds, like volunteering at a local shelter, can increase owners’ points.

Dog ChinaTPG/Getty ImagesRetired blast search dogs being adopted in Shanghai in September 2018.

The sticks and carrots

The points system appears to have worked.

In August, authorities said 80% of dog owners now use leashes, according to Sixth Tone, and complaints about dogs biting or barking were down by 65%, the state-run China Daily reported in August.

Since the enforcement of the system, more than 1,400 dog owners have also been fined or lost points on their licence.

Those who lost all their points had their dogs confiscated and were required to pass a test on regulations required for pet ownership.

A local dog owner told Sixth Tone that when registering her dog, the pet was vaccinated, implanted with a microchip and had its picture taken. The owner then received a tag with a QR code that police can use to look up the dog breed, age, immunization status, plus the owner’s personal information and number of licence points.

The tag also allows for geolocation, and costs around $US50 plus annual tag inspections for an additional cost.

China facial recognition robot policeZhang Tao/VCG via GettyA police robot patrols a train station to recognise people’s faces and monitor air quality in Zhengzhou, China, in February 2017.

The new system also allows police to confiscate dogs that are unregistered by the state. China’s state-owned Legal Daily newspaper praised the credit system and called for it to be implemented across the country.

Several cities have also adopted stricter pet ownership laws. In Qingdao, located along the coast in Shandong, citizens are only allowed to have one dog per person and ban certain dog breeds.

The Chinese government has also introduced widespread measures to monitor its citizens and encourage good behaviour.

The country is working to combine its 170+ million security cameras with artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology to create a vast surveillance state and keep tabs on its 1.4 billion inhabitants.

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