A growing number of countries around the world are looking into Worldcoin, a cryptocurrency project that was launched out of beta in July 2023 and is co-founded by OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman.
In exchange for a digital ID and free bitcoin, nearly 2.3 million people have registered to have their irises scanned by Worldcoin’s “orb” devices.
According to Altman, its ID will allow people to verify online that they are human, which is vital, particularly in a future controlled by artificial intelligence.
However, Worldcoin faces criticism and skepticism from privacy advocates and experts over its biometric data collection which is believed to be deleted or stored in encrypted form.
Main concerns about Worldcoin
- The potential misuse or leakage of the biometric data collected by the project’s orb-shaped devices
- The lack of transparency and accountability of the project’s governance and operations
- The ethical and legal implications of offering monetary incentives for people to share their personal information
- The feasibility and scalability of the project’s ambitious vision and technical challenges
Most recent information regarding government action
- Argentina: The Agencia de Acceso an Informacion Publica (AAIP) data regulator announced last month that it was looking into Worldcoin’s acquisition, storage, and use of personal data.
- Britain: The UK’s data regulator announced in July that it would investigate Worldcoin.
- Kenya: Worldcoin’s local operations were stopped in August while the government evaluates potential hazards to public safety. According to the Communications Authority of Kenya and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, a preliminary evaluation indicated issues, which included gaining consumer agreement in exchange for a monetary prize bordered on enticement.
- Portugal: According to a spokeswoman, the CNPD, Portugal’s data regulator, has reviewed Worldcoin’s local data-gathering operation and has been in communication with the Bavarian data protection authorities in Germany. The CNPD stated that the results of their investigation will be made public.
The cryptocurrency project has received funding from various investors, both institutional and individual, who believe in its potential and vision.
Some of the investors of Worldcoin include:
- Andreessen Horowitz, a leading venture capital firm that has backed companies such as Facebook, Airbnb, and Coinbase.
- Khosla Ventures, a venture capital firm that focuses on technology, healthcare, and sustainability sectors.
- Blockchain Capital, a venture capital firm that invests exclusively in blockchain technology and crypto assets.
- Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock Partners.
Ultimately, the success of Worldcoin will depend on how it addresses the concerns that have been raised. If the project can allay these concerns, it could have a significant impact on the way we live and work.