How the EU could combine carbon passports, digital ID, and social credit for every product

The European Union is going deep with its plans to introduce digital IDs across industries. Tying a form of digital ID to all products would make the introduction of carbon social credit scores easier to implement.

The concept of “carbon passports,” proposed as a measure to combat climate change, has, for a while now, raised significant concerns regarding civil liberties. These passports are designed to track an individual’s carbon footprint, including travel, energy consumption, and lifestyle choices. While their intention is to encourage environmentally friendly behaviors, they present a substantial threat to personal privacy by enabling continuous monitoring of personal activities.

This intrusion into privacy is not the only issue; carbon passports could potentially lead to discriminatory practices. Those in lower-income brackets, who often have limited access to green alternatives, might find themselves unfairly penalized. This system risks exacerbating social inequalities by disproportionately affecting those less financially equipped to make eco-friendly choices.

Furthermore, carbon passports could restrict movement and personal autonomy. Limiting travel or certain activities based on carbon usage might create a situation where only the wealthy, who can afford carbon offsets or sustainable options, maintain their freedom. This scenario paints a disturbing picture of environmental responsibility being accessible only to those with financial means.

Another concern is the centralization of power in the hands of entities controlling the carbon data. This centralization could lead to a slippery slope where tools designed for climate control evolve into instruments of more oppressive surveillance and control. The balance between addressing environmental concerns and maintaining civil liberties is delicate and crucial.

As part of the push towards carbon passports, a new idea – tying a form of digital ID to all products is also being pushed. It makes the introduction of carbon social credit scores easier to implement.

The European Union is going deep with its plans to introduce digital IDs (in this case, “digital product passports, DDPs”) across industries. DDPs specifically refer to apparel, accessories and electronics.

Critics, on the other hand, say it’s simply yet another way to abuse consumers by harvesting even more of their data. The opponents’ fears appear to rely on solid facts since some of the data collected thanks to the EU’s proposed scheme will profile people based on their behavior, preferences, and even the value of their “resale profile.”

The deadline mentioned is as early as 2026 – that’s how soon brands would have to incorporate digital passports into their products.

And, don’t expect any resistance from brands. Reports are saying that they are working hard to meet the deadline of meeting what is referred to as the European Commission’s “real-world uses for digital identities.”

On the side of the fashion industry, there will be the need to let the EU know – no longer voluntarily – about how they manufacture items, organize their supply chains, and the materials used.

Well, don’t expect brands to only implement the tech to make the EU feel good about itself. “Brands currently testing the technology are figuring out ways for it to collect customer data and add perks beyond the point of purchase,” writes Vogue Business.

Already trying to go a step above linking physical items with digital identity – as is the case with QR and NFC – and meet EU goals are the likes of Balenciaga, RealReal, and Boss, the article mentions.

And unlike that “old tech” that was there mostly to facilitate and protect transactions, manufacturers and customers, Mojito CEO Raakhee Miller had this interesting take on what’s referred to as the upcoming, “physical first” method: it “not only enhances the product’s value,” said Miller, “but also deepens consumer engagement.”

So, how deeply does the EU – and brands following its diktat – want to “engage” customers, other than people handing over money for a product they buy? This is where what’s basically data harvesting and mining comes into play, even if it is explained in fancy (and unsurprisingly, equally meaningless) terms like “phygital goods” and “metaverse approach.”

But, so to speak, the proof is in the word salad: the point is to have services and use cases “more anchored in client needs.” And clearly, to know what those needs are, one must first better know the client. Meaning, beyond what the client is currently comfortable sharing with multinational conglomerates.

Can’t we all just buy what we want, and move along? Please?

Not so fast, the EU says, and people like Vestiaire Collective VP of Partnerships Laura Escure explain it by no less than what might seem to many as basically questioning the customers’ cognitive abilities.

“The barriers around Web3 were not helping consumers to think thoroughly about luxury,” Escure is quoted.

And did you know that if you dish out a lot of money on a luxury product, there’s a whole “story” behind it – beside the one in your bank statement? That’s how Aura Blockchain Consortium CEO Romain Carrere wants you to think about the situation.

“We believe in a future where every customer feels connected to the story behind their products, and the DPP is the key to unlocking that narrative. It’s not just a digital passport, it’s a journey of trust and empowerment for every consumer,” said Carrere.

But mostly, it would seem, it’s a narrative. There to empower itself, and those in positions of power, rather than the customer.

Back in EU’s bureaucracy, the digital product passport proposals first saw the light of day in the spring of 2022, naturally, as “sustainability” enhancing mechanisms related to products, and about a year later, this was officially presented on the European Commission website as a way to share key information about a product.

The information would be shared “across all the relevant economic actors,” a press release said in May 2023. Things are happening in this space under the Proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR).

The EU claims its goals are to boost what it calls circular economy, material and energy efficiency, and extend product lifetimes, as well as the way waste from those products is eventually handled.

The bloc also declares some grand ambitions here – like creating new business opportunities – “based on improved data access,” though.

And the EU is not above putting down consumers either, while at once working to elevate the level of data scrounged off of them. The DDP scheme, the Commission says, will “help consumers in making sustainable choices.”

And, for now – “allow authorities to verify compliance with legal obligations.”

Reprinted with permission from Reclaim The Net.

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