Following Scrutiny in Kenya and Europe, Worldcoin Says It Will Let Interested 3rd Parties Use Its ID System
Kenya suspended Worldcoin activities, while the project also has fallen under investigation in France, UK, and Germany. Worldcoin says it will continue rolling out operations in "all the parts of the world that will accept us" and admitted that plans to sell collected data to interested parties.
“The Government is concerned by the ongoing activities of an organization calling itself ‘WORLD COIN’ which is involved in the registration of citizens through the collection of eyeball/iris data,” Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior said in a Facebook post.
Inquiries and investigations by security, financial, and data protection agencies have already commenced to establish the safety and protection of the data being harvested, and how the harvesters intend to use the data. If these probes uncover “any risks to the general public whatsoever,” Worldcoin will remain suspended, the press release states.
Since the project's launch, regulators in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France initiated investigations over its large-scale processing of sensitive biometric data.
"These technologies are at first sight neither established nor well analysed for the specific core purpose of the processing in the field of transferring financial information. This leads to a number of risks, including whether users have given explicit consent to their highly-sensitive biometric data being processed on the basis of "sufficient and clear" information, Michael Will, President of The Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision said.
"The legality of this collection seems questionable, as do the conditions for storing biometric data," added the France's privacy watchdog CNIL.
"Rainer Rehak, a researcher on AI and society at the Weizenbaum Institute in Berlin said that Worldcoin's use of technology is "irresponsible" and that it is not clear what problems it would solve."
"Worldcoin will expand its operations to sign up more users globally and aims to allow other organisations to use its iris-scanning and identity-verifying technology," Ricardo Macieira, a senior manager for the company behind the project told Reuters.
"Companies could pay Worldcoin to use its digital identity system, for example if a coffee shop wants to give everyone one free coffee, then Worldcoin's technology could be used to ensure that people do not claim more than one coffee without the shop needing to gather personal data. The idea is that as we build this infrastructure and that we allow other third parties to use the technology,", Macieira added.
He added that Worldcoin would continue rolling out operations in Europe, Latin America, Africa and "all the parts of the world that will accept us."
"Most people interviewed by Reuters at sign-up sites in Britain, India and Japan last week said they were joining in order to receive the 25 free Worldcoin tokens the company says verified users can claim."
"Worldcoin raised $115 million from venture capital investors including Blockchain Capital, a16z crypto, Bain Capital Crypto and Distributed Global in a funding round in May."
Worldcoin says 2.2 million have signed up for its project, mostly during a trial period over the last two years. Many of initial Worldcoin users are said to come from financially vulnerable background.
Earlier in May, there were reports on how Worldcoin prompted a black market for KYC credentials that come from countries like Kenya and Cambodia.