China’s Controversial Proposals for the Metaverse reveal the country’s desire to exert control and influence over the emerging technology. Chinese state-owned telecoms operator China Mobile has put forward proposals for a “Digital Identity System” in virtual worlds, reminiscent of the country’s controversial social credit systems. This system would collect and store personal data points of users, allowing law enforcement to maintain order and safety. These proposals, part of discussions at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), have raised concerns about privacy and individual freedom. The push by China to set global standards in fledgling technologies, including the metaverse, has been criticized by Western officials, who caution against promoting a government-controlled version of the internet and telecommunications.
China’s Controversial Proposals for the Metaverse
The metaverse, a network of connected virtual worlds, has garnered significant attention as a promising technology. However, China’s proposals for the development and regulation of the metaverse have raised concerns and sparked controversy. This article will explore the issues with China’s proposals, discuss its influence in global technology standards, analyze China Mobile’s specific proposal for the metaverse, examine the role of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as an arena for geopolitical conflict, and shed light on China’s long-term strategy for the metaverse. Experts’ concerns and criticisms regarding China’s proposals will also be addressed.
Issues with China’s Proposals
China’s proposals for the metaverse have raised several concerns among experts and stakeholders. One major issue is the resemblance of these proposals to China’s controversial social credit systems. The Digital Identity System, recommended by China Mobile, bears similarities to the social credit system, as it involves assigning unique digital IDs to individuals that include personal data and social characteristics. This raises concerns about privacy and freedom, as it could potentially lead to surveillance and the restriction of individuals’ online activities. Experts argue that such a system risks violating principles of privacy and freedom that are fundamental to the internet as it is known in the Western world.
China’s Influence in Global Technology Standards
China has been actively pursuing the establishment of global standards for emerging technologies through its participation in the ITU. The ITU plays a crucial role in defining the ground rules for global telecommunications and technology infrastructure. China’s strategy at the ITU has raised concerns among Western officials, who see it as an attempt by China to promote its government-controlled version of the internet and telecommunications. China’s efforts to set global standards, including metaverse-related standards, could give it an advantage in shaping the future of these technologies.
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China Mobile’s Proposal for the Metaverse
China Mobile, the state-owned telecoms operator, has drafted a proposal for the metaverse that has ignited controversy. The proposal introduces a Digital Identity System for users of online virtual worlds. This system aims to store and share personal data with law enforcement to maintain order and safety in the virtual world. Critics argue that this proposal raises concerns about privacy, as individuals’ personal data would be permanently stored and shared without their consent. The involvement of law enforcement in the metaverse also raises questions about potential surveillance and control.
The ITU as an Arena for Geopolitical Conflict
The ITU has become an arena for geopolitical conflict, particularly between China and the United States and its allies. China’s attempts to set global standards at the ITU have been met with scrutiny and resistance from Western countries. The metaverse focus group launched by the ITU has become a central forum for regulators, academics, NGOs, and technology companies to discuss and establish standards for the metaverse. However, China’s influence and the geopolitical tensions surrounding the ITU have raised concerns about the fairness and inclusivity of the standards-setting process.
China’s Long-Term Strategy for the Metaverse
China has a long-term strategy to become a leader in metaverse development and shape the standards for the technology. By filing more proposals than US or European participants, China aims to position itself as a key player in the metaverse industry. The Chinese government’s plan to be the world leader in metaverse development aligns with its broader goals, including the promotion of a state-controlled digital renminbi. China recognizes that setting standards is a crucial first step in seizing control and influencing the future of the metaverse.
Experts’ Concerns and Criticisms
Experts have voiced concerns and criticisms regarding China’s proposals for the metaverse. Some experts argue that these proposals risk violating principles of privacy and freedom, particularly with their resemblance to China’s social credit system. Additionally, China’s influence in setting global standards at the ITU has had a negative impact on the organization’s standing. The flood of Chinese proposals, often driven by government subsidies, has led to a lack of attention and adoption of ITU standards by US and European technology companies.
In conclusion, China’s controversial proposals for the metaverse have raised significant concerns regarding privacy, freedom, and the integrity of global technology standards. China’s influence in the ITU and its long-term strategy for metaverse development pose challenges and geopolitical conflicts. It remains to be seen how these issues will be addressed and how the international community will navigate the path toward a fair and inclusive metaverse.