Coming to a country near you …

China has rolled out what might loosely be considered a database of credit scores. The main criterion is the ability to pay, and every citizen gets a number from 350 to 950 that goes up or down.

But the Chinese system is based on far more than household finances. According to Rick Falkvinge at Privacy Online News, the government also wants to track what its citizens are buying, and whether those goods fit with the regime’s thinking.

In other words, China-made appliances would make you a more desirable citizen. Video games would be frowned on.

Also, the scores of friends influence yours. Hang out with people trash-talking the authoritarians and your score goes lower. Eventually your Internet access might be limited and your choice of careers limited.

Mr. Falkvinge puts things in perspective: “The KGB and the Stasi’s method of preventing dissent from taking hold was to plant [secret agents] in the general population, people who tried to make people agree with dissent, but who actually were … arresting them as soon as they agreed with such dissent.”

He concludes: “The Chinese way here is much more subtle, but probably more effective still. …What China is doing here is selectively breeding its population to select against the trait of critical, independent thinking.”

Now consider that our government collects every e-mail and all the information on the Internet, 24/7. Now I’ll steal a point made by Mr. Falkvinge: In terms of Orwell’s famous novel “1984,” at this point we’re in about 2054 … and going forward rapidly.