Worldcoin (WLD), a digital identity-based cryptocurrency project spearheaded by Sam Altman, co-founder of ChatGPT, has come under scrutiny as French authorities launch an investigation into its biometric data acquisition practices.
The project’s vision is to develop a user-centric digital identification platform using biometric data, including iris scans, to verify identities. However, concerns about privacy and ethical implications have prompted regulatory action.
Worldcoin aims to revolutionize the digital identification landscape by creating a platform centered on individual empowerment.
At the core of their approach lies the use of biometric data, particularly iris scans, for identity verification. To facilitate this, Worldcoin has established registration centers worldwide, each equipped with a unique “orb” – a shiny sphere used for scanning.
At these registration centers, individuals come into close proximity to the orb, which then scans their faces to collect biometric information, specifically for iris recognition. Subsequently, digital IDs are created, solely for the user’s use.
While the concept may appear promising, the Worldcoin project’s data acquisition methods raise significant privacy and ethical concerns.
The French data protection authority, CNIL, has expressed reservations about the approach, deeming it “questionable” and raising doubts about the conditions for storing biometric data.
In response to the mounting concerns, CNIL initiated an investigation into Worldcoin’s biometric data acquisition practices.
Surprisingly, the matter falls under the jurisdiction of the German state of Bavaria. Consequently, the investigation is now being conducted jointly by Bavarian authorities with assistance from CNIL.
The gravity of the situation has attracted attention beyond France and Germany. The UK’s data regulator has also announced its intent to probe the cryptocurrency project’s practices, further highlighting the global implications of biometric data management.
Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, has echoed the apprehensions surrounding potential misuse and privacy issues arising from such biometric data collection initiatives.
The ongoing investigation into Worldcoin’s methods underscores the paramount importance of safeguarding privacy and ensuring robust data security in today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape.