Authorities in the Chinese province of Hebei have created a smartphone app that allows users to see if they are within 500 meters of a person in debt so they can report or publicly shame them.
Failing to pay off your debts is generally frowned upon all over the world, but one country has been cracking down on the practice harder than any other. In the last couple of years, Chinese authorities have used a variety of techniques to coerce debtors to pay up, with public shaming being the most popular one. Last year, the local government in Hejiang county, Sichuan, started showing their faces and names during short clips played in cinemas before the main screening, and now authorities in Hebei have announced an app that detects debtors in a 500-meter-radius, allowing users to report or shame them.
Described as “a map of deadbeat debtors”, the controversial app can be accessed through Chinese all-in-one social media platform WeChat. State-run newspaper China Daily reports that the app can be used to detect debtors within a 500-meter radius. Debtors’ information can also be accessed through the app, making it easier for “whistle blowers” to report them if they appear capable of paying their debts.
“It’s a part of our measures to enforce our rulings and create a socially credible environment,” a spokesperson for the Higher People’s Court of Hebei said.
It’s been reported that the “map of deadbeat debtors” shows the exact location of a person in debt, making it easier for users of the app to identify them, but it’s unclear whether it will show people with any debt or only those over a certain threshold.