We are indeed indebted to Private Eye (no 1497) for drawing our attention to the latest Chinese concept for civil enforcement against defaulting debtors.
Apparently, the High People’s Court in Hebei Province has taken steps to ensure that defaulters pay their judgment debts “and against those who refuse to fulfil court orders … to pay their debts”.
Apparently, there is a new program on “WeChat” which allows smartphone users to find out how many debtors are within a 500 metre radius of them, as well as their personal information. And, to add to the fun, this information can be shared with friends as well as being reported to the court.
“Another piece of software ensures that if anyone calls a debtor, the caller hears a message telling them that the person they are calling has been put on a blacklist by the court for not paying their debts. It also asks the caller to urge the debtor to fulfil their legal obligations. The aim is to make debtors feel pressure from friends and relatives, telling them to repay their debts”.
When the software was tested, a local resident was able to identify 87 defaulters around his home including restaurants and real estate developers!
Whilst it does appear that China may have a significant debt problem it is, of course, easy to make light of the program.
As stated in a previous article, China does not have data protection legislation with there being no “rule of law”, unless you can define that as being the one party state. However, the report does underline how valuable our data protection regime is in protecting the rights of the individual from overzealous software designers and its users. Without such legislation and protections, all citizens would be at the mercy of other individuals and governments who may have no regard whatsoever to individual freedoms and the right to a privacy. Perhaps sceptics will hopefully see the value of the European Convention on Human Rights!
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