China proposes to bring its social credit system to the metaverse: Report

August 23, 2023

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

China is exploring the possibility of extending its controversial social credit system to the rapidly evolving metaverse, according to a recent report by POLITICO. This comes as the metaverse – a collective virtual shared space – is seeing a surge in global interest and development.

Here’s what we know:

On August 20, POLITICO disclosed that China Mobile, a state-operated telecommunications giant, suggested introducing a unique digital ID for users in the metaverse and other virtual realms. This ID is intended to encompass both “natural characteristics” and “social characteristics.”

China Mobile asserts that such a system is pivotal “to keep the order and safety of the virtual world.” To achieve this, the proposed ID would collect and store a broad range of personal details, including occupation. 

Additionally, the company suggests that this data should be perpetually retained and accessible to governmental authorities. To underline the purported advantages, the report highlights how the digital ID could enable law enforcement to swiftly identify and address individuals who disseminate misinformation or sow discord in the metaverse.

These recommendations bear a striking resemblance to China’s ongoing social credit initiative. This program, still under construction, aims to foster better civic behavior by scoring and ranking citizens on various metrics. As a testament to its potency, in 2018, over 17.5 million individuals barred from buying airline tickets and another 5.5 million prevented from purchasing train tickets due to low scores.

In a recent discussion orchestrated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – the United Nations’ tech communication arm – China Mobile officially presented these ideas. The ITU’s metaverse committee is slated to reconvene in October, during which these proposals might be put to a vote.

The decisions made by the ITU’s metaverse subgroup could significantly shape the future policies of telecommunications and tech companies, given its goal of creating metaverse standards.

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

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