Sam Altman’s Worldcoin Is Being Investigated By Multiple Countries

Germany revealed on Friday that it has quietly been investigating Worldcoin, a new cryptocurrency project by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, that uses iris-scanning technology. This brings the total number of European countries investigating the project to three, which indicates possible regulatory challenges ahead.

The president of Germany’s data watchdog confirmed that the investigation began in November 2022 due to concerns about the venture accessing sensitive data on a large scale.

Although Worldcoin was officially launched last Monday, it has been scanning people’s irises worldwide for the past two years to create a database linking human identity to biometric data, aiming to verify human users in the age of artificial intelligence.

Now, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom are all investigating the project. In the United States, Worldcoin is not paying users for their eye scans due to regulatory issues.

Critics have raised concerns about the project’s implementation. Journalists who got their irises scanned found that no prior identification was required, raising privacy issues. Participants in the trial run in developing countries felt cheated by the compensation offered. Additionally, it is unclear if users can request their information to be removed from the blockchain-based database.

Worldcoin has circulated a white paper claiming that it has received positive assessments on data privacy and security from two firms. However, both European data watchdogs and Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, whose blockchain supports Worldcoin, are skeptical about the project’s readiness for mainstream adoption.

Until more information about Worldcoin’s operations and data handling becomes available, many remain unconvinced about the project’s viability. Despite the glimmer of an interesting idea, concerns abound regarding its privacy, security, and transparency.

“If even one Orb manufacturer is malicious or hacked,” Buterin wrote in a blog post about Worldcoin, “it can generate an unlimited number of fake iris scan hashes, and give them World IDs.”

As the investigation unfolds, it remains uncertain whether the “proof-of-personhood” concept can successfully navigate the intricate regulatory landscape and earn public trust. Stakeholders, including the company and regulators, must engage in open dialogue and transparent disclosure to address the questions surrounding Worldcoin and its utilization of sensitive biometric data.

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