- A digital identity for all users of the online virtual world has been proposed in China by the country’s largest mobile operator.
- China Mobile proposes a digital identity system that will call on metaverse users to divulge personal information including their work and identifiable signs.
- The proposal is currently being discussed, if approved, will put users of the metaverse in danger of privacy and freedom abuses.
China’s state-owned telecom operator China Mobile has proposed a “Digital Identity System” for all users of online virtual worlds, or metaverses. China Mobile proposes to keep track of all regional metaverse subscribers. The concept, which has been considered by IT professionals and Chinese officials, might establish universal regulations centred on that technology. The news was first reported by politico
China Mobile is the largest mobile operator by single subscriber but was delisted by the New York Stock Exchange in 2021 after an executive order by Donald Trump barred U.S. investments in companies aiding China’s military.
The state-owned telecom company is submitting global metaverse rules to the UN that eerily resemble the nation’s contentious social credit system.
China uses a credit system which grades and evaluates its population on a number of factors including; behaviour, employment, social media usage and more. This data is utilised to restrict citizens including preventing overseas travel. Hence why some users including Chris Kremidas-Courtney, a senior fellow at the Brussels think tank Friends of Europe, have criticised their new proposal as a kin to the infamous social credit system.
The proposed digital identity system will call on metaverse users to divulge personal information including their work and identifiable signs. The information may be kept forever and given to police authorities.
The state-owned telecom provider suggested that the digital ID should function with “natural characteristics” and “social characteristics,” which comprise a variety of identifying traits such as a person’s career, social and other details. To maintain “the order and safety of the virtual world,” China Mobile also recommended that this information be “permanently” retained and shared with law authorities
All users of the metaverse might have a “digital identity system” based on a combination of “natural characteristics” and “social characteristics.” According to China Mobile’s plans, data points like occupancy can be “permanently” saved and shared with authorities in order to “maintain the order and safety of the virtual world.”
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) authorities; the United Nations’ telecoms agency that sets global rules for how technology works and tech experts are debating the standards as part of their deliberations. If enacted, the suggestions from China Mobile would put users of the metaverse in danger of privacy and freedom abuses, according to experts who studied them.
According to a group member who spoke to Politico, Western officials have cautioned that China is attempting to promote its contentious rules for the future of digital worlds, with Chinese public and commercial players promoting these norms considerably more persistently than those from the US and Europe.
In an effort to advance a government-controlled version of the internet and telecoms, Chinese public and commercial entities have pushed to establish global standards on emerging technologies through the ITU. Western authorities have previously warned against this tactic. Attempts by Chinese telecom company Huawei to change the functioning of internet protocols, a crucial component of global internet traffic, raised worry among Western authorities in 2020.
The ITU’s metaverse focus group, which was established in December 2022, aims to serve as the main meeting place for regulators, academics, non-governmental groups, and technological firms to negotiate the rules for a hypothetical immersive internet.
Some experts flagged that Beijing’s attempts to take the lead over work at the U.N. agency are hurting the organization’s standing across the world, others argue that Chinese actors are flooding it with bad proposals because they get government subsidies for filing them. However, there is a grave danger of them getting ahead as US and European technology companies are just not paying attention to ITU standards anymore.