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    Published on August 4, 2023 last updated on August 4, 2023

    Worldcoin under scrutiny over iris-scanning operations

    Earlier this week, Kenya suspended crypto projects initiated by Worldcoin due to privacy and security concerns.

    Worldcoin, a project co-created in 2020 by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, aims at creating a reliable way to authenticate humans online in order to counter the rise of artificial intelligence, deep fakes, and other human-like technologies. To do so, the company has created World ID, a “proof of personhood” available to users who get their irises scanned by a device called an Orb.

    To jumpstart its network, Worldcoin has set up scanning stations around the world and offers cryptocurrency rewards for anyone accepting to get their biometrics scanned (25 Worldcoin tokens, worth about $55). Iris-scanning orb stations have been set up all around the world, including India, Chile, Sudan, France, Mexico, Japan, and until recently in Kenya, where the government has decided to suspend operations over privacy concerns.

    In a press statement, the office of the Kenyan data protection commissioner cited "lack of clarity on the security and storage", "uncertainty regarding consumer protection", and "consent in exchange for a monetary reward which borders on inducement" among the reasons for the suspension.

    Detractors have long argued that Worldcoin is using deceiving and exploitative marketing tactics, by setting up orbs in developing countries such as Indonesia and Chile, where the company has been collecting biometrics data for the past three years and has been accused of offering financial incentives in impoverished communities to collect massive amounts of personal data without valid, informed consent:

    "I really like Worldcoin because of the money. I'm not worried about the data being taken. As long as the money comes"

    - Dickson Muli, a citizen of Nairobi (source: BBC)

    Despite Kenya’s decision to suspend operations in the country for the time being, Worldcoin representatives have expressed confidence in a return to operations and reassured their commitment to privacy and collaboration with regulators:

    “Worldcoin remains committed to providing an inclusive, privacy-preserving, decentralized on-ramp to the global digital economy and looks forward to resuming its services in Kenya while working closely with local regulators and other stakeholders.”

               - Worldcoin Foundation representative (source: TIME)

    France and Germany have also raised concerns regarding Worldcoin’s biometrics data collection practices and started taking a closer look at the project in a joint investigation.

    Would you be willing to get your iris scanned in exchange for cryptocurrency tokens? What is your opinion on WorldCoin’s tactics? Continue the conversation in the Yes We Trust community on LinkedIn:  

    Go to the Yes We Trust community

    avatar Jivika Lillaney

    Jivika Lillaney

    Content writer at Didomi. I am a digital creator who loves to explore the world and tick off things on my bucket list!