China is considering expanding its social credit system into virtual online worlds and metaverses through a proposal called the “Digital Identity System” created by state-owned telecom giant China Mobile. The proposal has sparked global discussions and concerns among digital privacy advocates.
Under the proposed system, each individual using a virtual online platform or metaverse would be assigned a unique digital ID that encompasses a range of identifiable signs, natural characteristics, social characteristics, and personal details to form a comprehensive user profile.
The proposal suggests that the collected information would be stored indefinitely and made available to law enforcement agencies, allowing for quick responses to misconduct within virtual environments. This initiative is similar to China’s social credit system, which is operational in the physical world.
The proposal provides an example of a user named Tom who behaves disruptively in the metaverse. With the digital ID system, Tom’s actions could be quickly identified and appropriate action taken, effectively regulating behavior in the virtual space.
In December, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency, established a metaverse focus group to discuss the emerging concept of virtual worlds. China Mobile’s proposal was presented at the second metaverse focus group meeting held in Shanghai on July 5th and is expected to be voted on at the next assembly in October.
However, there are concerns about data privacy and personal freedom related to China Mobile’s proposal to expand China’s social credit system into virtual online worlds and metaverses. Critics argue that the use of a unique identifier and the prolonged storage of personal data could infringe upon online privacy rights.