China’s Beijing – China is reportedly considering expanding its traditional social credit system into the metaverse, according to recent reports. This plan has sparked worries about more control and surveillance in virtual worlds.
According to Politico, China Mobile, the government’s telecoms company, initially created these concepts under the name “Digital Identity System” for its citizens within the metaverse. China is attempting to promote its vision through meetings with specialists at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations institution that focuses on telecommunications, as discussions on emerging technologies gain steam globally.
The suggested system includes personal data including names, birth information, face traits, and occupations and tries to combine natural attributes with social factors. To ensure peace and order in the virtual world, it is suggested that law enforcement organizations would handle this data.
Measures to prevent undesired activities in the virtual world are also included in this contentious metaverse social credit system. It makes it possible to trace users who participate in behaviors like “spreading rumors and causing chaos in the metaverse,” enabling authorities to step in and maintain order.
Western academics have raised alarm about China’s ability to create a government-controlled internet in the near future in reaction to these proposed laws. In order to create a unified digital identity system with social characteristics, Chris Kremidas-Courtney, a senior fellow at the Brussels think tank Friends of Europe, drew comparisons between these proposals and China’s current social credit system. He claimed that this is because both systems aim to do the same thing.
For its perceived authoritarian nature, China’s concerted efforts to sway the ITU, a United Nations body in charge of establishing international regulations for digital telecommunications architecture, have garnered criticism. China has routinely sent the ITU more ideas than the US and EU combined. The ITU created the metaverse group in December 2022 to act as a consultation platform for professionals, laypeople, and significant tech corporations to assist in guiding the development of the virtual world.
According to Matt Sheehan, a specialist in China’s technological environment, China is aggressively trying to influence ITU standards and policies, which may not be in line with Western objectives. He pointed out that Chinese actors frequently overburden the ITU with numerous suggestions, frequently motivated by government subsidies, which causes American and European IT companies to pay less attention to ITU standards.
Kremidas-Courtney underlined that China looks to be “playing the long game” in an effort to control the ITU’s developing standards, which might have a substantial effect on the development of digital telecommunications infrastructure.
At the upcoming ITU meeting slated for October in Geneva, votes on the proposals put out by China Mobile on July 5 will be taken; the outcome of these votes will determine the future of these potentially extensive metaverse regulations.