Microsoft and Mastercard want to hoard all your data in one system

If you’ve ever had trouble remembering passwords, been stuck verifying your identity for various services, or enjoyed not having your voting, travel and relationship statuses monitored by large companies, Microsoft and Mastercard now have a solution for that.

Microsoft and Mastercard want to hoard all your data in one system

The newly unveiled collaboration is an identity management system that promises to remember users’ identity verification and passwords between sites and services, alleviating potential problems from users forgetting passwords. Mastercard’s press release stresses the “huge burden in individuals, who have to successfully remember hundreds of passwords for various identities.”

In theory, the system streamlines many on- and off-line functions, letting users control where their data does and doesn’t go through mobile devices. Mastercard highlights four particular areas of use: financial services, commerce, government services, and digital services (specifying for the latter social media, music streaming services and rideshare apps). This means the system would let users manage their data across both websites and real-world services.

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However, the inclusion of “government services” is an eyebrow-raising one. Microsoft and Mastercard’s system could link personal information including taxes, voting status and criminal record, with consumer services like social media accounts, online shopping history and bank accounts. This isn’t just a whimsical fear either, as Mastercard highlighted this feature in  its announcement tweet.

As well as the stifling level of tailored advertising you’d receive if the system knew everything you did, this sets the dangerous precedent for every byte of users’ information to be stored under one roof — perfect for an opportunistic hacker or businessman. Mastercard mention it is “working closely with players like Microsoft,” showing that many businesses have access to the data.

China is currently implementing their Social Credit Score system similar to this which would combine all a citizen’s actions in order to rate them. The major difference, in this case, is that its a company regulating the data instead of the government — but at this point, governments are used to forcing tech companies to hand over data. Twitter users were quick to point out the dangers of the system.

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Several of the stated aims of this partnership are to prevent fraud, increase ease of use for services that require identity verification, and coerce those not officially recognised by governments to become so. Many people, particularly refugees, are not recognised, and according to Mastercard “a digital identity can improve their access to health, financial and social services”.

Neither Microsoft nor Mastercard have slated a release date for the system, only promising “additional details on these efforts will be shared in the coming months.”

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