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Metaverse to Incorporate China’s Social Credit System

Metaverse to Enforce China’s Social Credit System

China’s well-known social credit system, which regulates citizen behavior through potential public disapproval and restricted actions, is now being explored for application in regulating participants within the metaverse.

Metaverse version of China

As outlined in a POLITICO report, China Mobile, a state-owned telecommunications enterprise, has developed a blueprint for a “Digital Identity System” intended for users within online virtual realms, commonly referred to as metaverses. This proposed system would utilize individuals’ “natural characteristics” and “social characteristics,” encompassing an array of personal data such as occupation, “identifiable indicators,” and other attributes.

The suggestions put forth highlight that, in order “to keep the order and safety of the virtual world,” the digital ID would encompass a range of personal details and recognizable markers, including an individual’s occupation. The proposal recommends the perpetual retention of such data and its sharing with authorities.

An instance illustrating the advantages of this system was provided involving a troublesome user who “spreads rumors and makes chaos in the metaverse.” The digital ID would enable law enforcement to swiftly locate and take action against the individual.

The proposal closely resembles China’s ongoing social credit system, an evolving framework devised to enhance conduct through the evaluation and ranking of citizens based on diverse metrics. This system has also functioned as a means of enforcement.

Metaverse Metrics in China

The genesis of the proposal emerged from exchanges among technology specialists and officials at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations-operated telecommunications agency responsible for establishing worldwide regulations governing technological operations.

ITU’s metaverse focus group was initiated in December and aims to serve as the central platform where standards for a theoretical immersive internet are negotiated among regulators, scholars, non-governmental organizations, and technology enterprises.

Given the ITU’s influential role in delineating the foundational guidelines for global telecommunications and technology infrastructure, it has evolved into a contested arena for China and the U.S. concerning the future of the internet.

Within the ITU, both public and private entities in China have actively pursued the establishment of worldwide benchmarks for emerging technologies. This endeavor has raised concerns among Western officials who caution that China intends to propagate a government-controlled rendition of the internet and telecommunications.

An evaluation by experts of the proposal concluded that it runs the risk of contravening the established tenets of privacy and the freedom to connect, which have become fundamental elements of the internet in Western societies.

The metaverse focus group is scheduled for another assembly in October, during which the proposals may undergo a voting process.

Should these proposals gain approval, they hold the potential to exert significant influence over telecommunications companies and technology enterprises. The metaverse group within ITU aims to establish fresh benchmarks for metaverse services.

Notably, Chinese companies participating in the focus group are reportedly submitting a notably higher volume of metaverse proposals in contrast to counterparts from the United States and Europe. This insight was shared by an individual contributing to the group and speaking with POLITICO.

According to them, China is adopting a strategic approach, envisioning its proposals as the standard for the metaverse should its utilization attain widespread adoption.

The individual posed a thought-provoking question: “Imagine a metaverse where your identity protocols are set and monitored by Chinese authorities. Every government must ask themselves: ‘Is that the kind of immersive world we want to live in?’


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