UK’s Data Watchdog to Examine Worldcoin as Project Picks Up Steam
The British data regulator said it would examine Sam Altman’s Worldcoin project, a day after it announced its launch. The move comes as privacy concerns over Worldcoin’s eye-scanning operations gather steam.
UK to Make Enquiries Into Worldcoin Day After Launch
The UK data regulator said on Tuesday it will investigate Worldcoin, a new orb-based digital identity project co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman that launched yesterday. The project has been controversial as its approach to creating a decentralized digital identity platform raised privacy concerns.
“We note the launch of WorldCoin in the UK and will be making further enquiries.”– a spokesperson for Information Commissioner’s Office told Reuters.
The regulator’s remarks come just a day after the Worldcoin project went live. The project aims to provide its users with a World ID – a digital identity that can be created only by real humans. Those wishing to obtain a World ID must/ go for an in-person iris scan using Worldcoin’s ‘Orb’ product.
With a size similar to a bowling ball, the Orb uses infrared cameras, sensors, and AI-based neural networks to scan one’s iris and confirm they are a human being. Once the scan is completed, the person is provided with their unique World ID.
In addition to scanning eyeballs across 20 countries, Worldcoin also rolled out its native cryptocurrency, WLD, distributed to those offering their iris scan. The token was listed on Binance on Monday, currently trading at $2.02.
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Worldcoin’s Mission and Controversy Surrounding the Project
Worldcoin aims to solve two fundamental problems through its orb-based approach: online identity authentication and income inequality. The unique World ID can be used as a potential solution for the rapidly-growing number of bots, an issue that emerged in the AI age dominated by large language models like ChatGPT. That way, it could reduce fraud.
Meanwhile, Altman, one of the people behind the project, is a loud supporter of universal basic income (UBI) – a social welfare system in which a government provides citizens with regular and unconditional cash payments. This is where WLD tokens could come into play.
However, Worldcoin’s unconventional approach to solving these problems has also concerned many users and regulators. The primary concerns regarding the project are associated with its practice of collecting people’s iris scans. Privacy advocates warn that this could lead to a black market for biometric data. However, Worldcoin contends that the iris scans are merely utilized to verify uniqueness.
Do you agree that Worldcoin should be investigated over potential privacy risks? Let us know in the comments below.