- Metaverse Governance: China proposes a social credit-like system for the metaverse, urging digital IDs integrated with real-world data.
- Global Implications: With the UN’s tech group set to discuss these proposals, the metaverse’s governance could experience a significant shift.
Navigating the Metaverse: China’s Digital ID Vision
China’s metaverse ambitions are taking a unique trajectory. Recent reports suggest that Beijing is considering a digital framework reminiscent of its on-ground social credit system, extending its surveillance and governance methodologies into the digital realm.
The Contours of China’s Proposal
POLITICO’s revelation on Aug. 20 highlights a compelling initiative by the state-owned China Mobile. The telco is advocating for a comprehensive digital ID for all users in the metaverse and similar online virtual ecosystems. This ID isn’t just a mere digital signature; it aims to encapsulate “natural characteristics” along with “social characteristics.”
Designed under the umbrella of “maintaining order and safety” in these expansive digital domains, the ID proposition seeks to amass a gamut of personal identifiers. This includes, but isn’t limited to, professional details. And rather than being ephemeral, the idea is for this data to be permanently archived, readily accessible to authorities.
To clarify the potential utility of such an ID system, a hypothetical scenario was presented. Consider an individual disseminating rumors or disrupting the digital peace within the metaverse. With this integrated ID, law enforcement agencies could efficiently trace and subsequently address the miscreant.
While this might seem like uncharted territory, parallels can be drawn with China’s ongoing social credit initiative. This system, currently under refinement, intends to nurture ethical behavior by rating citizens based on diverse criteria. Its ramifications have already been felt. In 2018 alone, a whopping 17.5 million individuals faced flight restrictions, while another 5.5 million were denied train travel, stemming from social credit discrepancies.
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In an interesting twist, these metaversal blueprints weren’t exclusively internal deliberations. On July 5, they were presented to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a communications tech agency under the UN umbrella, during discussions centered on the metaverse.
The ITU’s metaverse-centric group is set to reconvene in October. If China’s suggestions find favor, the repercussions could be widespread, potentially molding global standards for the metaverse. Intriguingly, insiders relay that Chinese entities are displaying unmatched enthusiasm, launching a volley of metaversal suggestions at a pace eclipsing their Western counterparts.
One anonymous contributor painted a vivid, albeit contemplative picture:
“Visualize a metaverse governed by Chinese-stipulated identity norms. Every nation should introspect: Is this the digital universe we envisage?”
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