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China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains

Starting in May, Chinese citizens who rank low on the country’s burgeoning “social credit” system will be in danger of being banned from buying plane or train tickets for up to a year, according to statements recently released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.

With the social credit system, the Chinese government rates citizens based on things like criminal behavior and financial misdeeds, but also on what they buy, say, and do. Those with low “scores” have to deal with penalties and restrictions. China has been working towards rolling out a full version of the system by 2020, but some early versions of it are already in place.

Previously, the Chinese government had focused on restricting the travel of people with massive amounts of debt, like LeEco and Faraday Future founder Jia Yueting, who made the Supreme People’s Court blacklist late last year.

The new travel restrictions are the latest addition to this growing patchwork of social engineering, which has already imposed punishments on more than seven million citizens.

And there’s a broad range when it comes to who can be flagged.

Citizens who have spread “false information about terrorism,” caused “trouble” on flights, used expired tickets, or were caught smoking on trains could all be banned, according to Reuters.

But the system, as it stands, is opaque; citizens are seemingly just as likely to be flagged for minor infractions like leaving bikes parked in a footpath or issuing apologies that are deemed “insincere” as major credit defaulters like Jia.

And it’s often unclear whether they’re on a blacklist in the first place, let alone what kind of recourse is available. “Chinese government authorities clearly hope to create a reality in which bureaucratic pettiness could significantly limit people’s rights,” Maya Wang, senior researcher for the non-profit NGO Human Rights Watch, wrote in December.

Google Pay for Wear OS devices comes to Canada, Spain, and Australia

Google Pay can now be used with Wear OS devices (the new name for Android Wear as of yesterday) in Canada, Spain, and Australia, as spotted by Android Police.

Previously, the payment service was only officially available on Wear OS devices in the US and UK.

As Android Police points out, enforcement for use strictly within the US and UK had been somewhat lax, with people in other countries using the service without issue.

However, those who installed the Oreo update on the Huawei Watch 2 found that their ability to use Google Pay on the device was then disabled outside of the US and UK.

Now that Google has confirmed the additional support in Canada, Spain, and Australia, users in those countries can use their Wear OS smartwatches to make regular payments and purchase transit tickets on select lines using the Opal ticketing system in Australia.

While there’s no estimate as to when Google Pay for Wear OS devices will come to even more countries, Google does say it’s “working to roll out support for more countries soon.” In the meantime, through May 14th, it’s offering a £10 credit (up to 10 times) for users who refer a friend in Australia and Canada. (The referred friend gets a £10 credit as well.)

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