Know your customer (KYC) for telecommunication (and social media)

Mar 31 · 3 min read

Know your customer is a common banking practice put in place as a preventative measure against money laundering and anti terror funding. With the advent and rise of fake news, one of the issues that arise time and again is that of anonymity of accounts. The below is a short of a click farm that generates likes (real or otherwise) for politicians/ businesses:

Introducing KYC for telecommunications is a logical move being a legacy industry and having close government ties due to the importance of signal intelligence (sigint). Having KYC for telcos is a good first step towards regulating social media. A few countries require identification before the purchase of SIM cards.

Singapore’s approach: myinfo

MyInfo (Singapore Government)

They breakdown the information based on a few topic such as personal biography, contact details, income etc. There are more than enough check points to ensure the identity of the person. The last piece of the puzzle I am waiting for is the issue of new identity cards and identity card readers similar to the Estonian approach.

Some banks are already using myinfo as an easy way to apply for loans or credit cards

Standard chartered example of using myinfo

The myinfo model is a good approach to ensure the true identity of the individuals. Essentially the Singapore government does the certification of authenticity of the individual. This could be used in digital banking and digital telcos to identify real people before allowing access to their banking and telco services.

The minimum requirement for a social media account is an email. Since most of us have given up our need for privacy with free emails such as gmail, outlook and other providers, it allows bad actors to create as many fake accounts as possible and tie them back to the social media account for nefarious intent. Some social networks do ask for a telephone number, but it is not a requirement. This could be legislated so that fake accounts are flagged out more quickly.

With the epidemic of fake news and disinformation on the rise, people need to become accountable. Legal action should be taken against the spread and this can be done only if individuals can be identified. Right now using only IP addresses and device fingerprinting is not fully accurate. A top down approach of real identities in the digital realm may hopefully curb anti social behavior such as cyber bullying and the decrease of fake news.

The scary part is the move towards China’s sesame credit model where everything is tracked because all the datasets are merged. This is the inflexion point I feel where future generations would judge us for handing over the keys to our privacy in exchange for promised safety and prosperity. Or this is the start of a better era in our civilization.


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