China said they were launching a comprehensive “credit score” system, and the more we learn about it, the more nightmarish it seems. China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age -- electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting -- to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It now looks like Ted Cruz has beaten them to the punch using "big data" mining.
Cruz, a critic of excessive government data collection, has been notably aggressive about gathering personal information for his campaign. Some of the data comes from typical sources, such as voters’ consumer habits and Facebook posts. According to several sources, a donor-funded US startup embedded in Republican’s campaign has been paying UK university academics to collect psychological profiles on potential voters. The result is a personalized citation sent to Iowan voters from the Cruz campaign.
On Friday evening, personalized letters target individual Iowa voters and identifies them as having failed to vote in prior elections. Much like the China 'social credit' system, it knows too much about its citizens, and it identifies the neighbors of the voter, and provides their voting history and their score as well.
Iowa resident Braddock Massey received this letter in the mail:
The text reads:
“You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses”.
Another resident confirmed they received the same type of letter from Cruz:
Ted Cruz claims to be running a positive campaign and paints himself as a trustworthy conservative. Attempting to shame voters into caucusing for him with these completely fake “Voting Violation” letters is a sleazy tactic that is sure to leave a bad taste in the mouth of undecided voters. Worse still was his decision to go ahead with sending these letters not thinking he would get caught. In the social media age, when you do something bad, people are bound to find out and expose you. This was clearly a last ditch desperation tactic from a campaign that has been going in the wrong direction in the polls for weeks now.