China appears poised to establish a robust identification system in the Metaverse, paralleling its real-world social credit initiative.
Digital IDs in the Metaverse
Recent reports suggest China is keen on introducing a distinctive identification system for users within the Metaverse and other online virtual dimensions. On August 20, POLITICO highlighted a proposition from the state-owned China Mobile that suggests introducing digital IDs in the Metaverse. These IDs would encompass both innate and societal attributes of individuals.
To uphold the integrity and security of the virtual realm, the proposed digital ID would incorporate a wide range of personal details, like an individual’s profession. The recommendation also calls for the permanent retention and potential sharing of such data with governmental bodies.
Advantages of the System
To underline the system’s potential, an example was provided. Should an individual spread false information or instigate unrest in the Metaverse, the proposed digital ID would facilitate swift identification and rectification by the police.
This concept closely resembles China’s evolving social credit system, which is intended to enhance public behavior by assessing and categorizing citizens based on numerous factors. This system has also been used as a regulatory instrument in the past.
For instance, in 2018, it was noted that citizens labeled as social offenders were restricted from purchasing plane tickets 17.5 million times, while others faced prohibitions from buying train tickets 5.5 million times.
Discussions at the International Level
On July 5, this proposal was introduced during deliberations with a Metaverse-centric focus group convened by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an arm of the United Nations that concentrates on communication technologies. The next meeting of this group is scheduled for October, during which the proposals might be subjected to a vote.
If endorsed, these guidelines could significantly shape the future strategies of telecommunication and tech corporations. Notably, the ITU’s Metaverse assembly seeks to chalk out novel standards for services within the Metaverse.
It’s noteworthy that Chinese corporations engaged in these discussions are reportedly submitting a multitude of Metaverse-related proposals, outnumbering their American and European counterparts. An insider shared with POLITICO that China envisions a Metaverse dominated by its standards and protocols. They further remarked, “Contemplate a virtual realm where identification norms are governed by Chinese regulators. Every nation needs to ponder whether such a scenario is desirable.”
The emerging Metaverse landscape might very well be witnessing the beginning of a new chapter in digital governance and control.