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China’s project to verify real-name digital ID leans into national blockchain ambitions

China’s project to verify real-name digital ID leans into national blockchain ambitions
 

China is embracing blockchain in an effort to verify the real-name digital identities of everyone in the country, according to reporting by Coindesk.

Dubbed “RealDID,” the initiative is led by the Ministry of Public Security in cooperation with the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), China’s national blockchain scheme. It coincides with the adoption of new rules by China’s major social media platforms – WeChat, Sina Weibo, Douyin, Kuaishou, Bilibili and Xiaohongshu – which require accounts with more than half a million or a million followers (depending on the platform) to publicly display the real names of their owners or financial backers.

However, the larger decentralized ID (DID) project encompasses much more than social media. BSN, which is run by China’s National Information Center in tandem with tech firms China Mobile and China UnionPay, calls RealDID “the world’s first national-level real-name decentralized identity system.” The service is based on the CTID digital identity chain, which generates a distributed digital identity with traceable real-name attributes. BNS projects broader digital ID use cases for real-name DID, including verification, encrypted data transfer, personal identity certificates and more. As stated in a release, its overarching goal is in keeping with digital ID projects worldwide: to give users more ownership and control over their own data, and more choice in what data they share with which platforms and services.

The project will likely do little to impress those who are skeptical of China’s noble intentions around data privacy. This includes the United States, where legislators are at work on a bipartisan bill to ban federal officials from using China-made blockchains, citing potential national security risks.

Regardless, Beijing pushes on. To complement the launch of the project, BSN held a conference in Beijing on December 12: the “BSN Real Name” event precedes a forthcoming follow-up, the “BSN DID Service Conference”. A release says the conference will bring together private and government representatives with experts in the field of distributed technology, to develop direction and application scenarios for the digital identity authentication system and to promote collaboration and data circulation on the blockchain.

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