Vogon Today

Selected News from the Galaxy


Hail from the Privacy Guarantor to Sam Altman’s Worldcoin project (OpenAI)

Hail from the Privacy Guarantor to Sam Altman's Worldcoin project (OpenAI)

The warning from the Privacy Guarantor in Italy arrives on the iris scanning in exchange for data foreseen by the Worldcoin protocol. The cryptocurrency project co-founded by Sam Altman features a worldwide identity verification program that relies on iris scans as proof of identity.

Hail from the Privacy Guarantor to Worldcoin.

If the Worldcoin project, based on iris scanning to verify the identity of users, landed in Italy, it would in all likelihood violate the EU regulation, with all the sanctioning consequences provided for by the legislation.

This is in summary the warning that the Personal Data Protection Authority chaired by Pasquale Stanzione sent to the Worldcoin Foundation, which supports the project launched in 2019 by Sam Altman , CEO of OpenAI – the company behind the viral chatbot ChatGpt — to be able to exchange cryptocurrencies, after the initial feedback provided by the company as part of the investigation launched in recent months by the authority.

The project co-founded by the head of OpenAI encourages people to have their iris scanned in exchange for a digital ID and in some countries free cryptocurrency and has already raised concerns from regulators around the world.

Sharing such biometric data, even if it is not saved, can expose people to a variety of risks ranging from identity fraud to health privacy violations and discrimination. So much so that in Spain and Portugal there has been a stop to Worldcoin in recent weeks. British group Big Brother Watch said after the launch that there was a risk that biometric data could be hacked or exploited. French data watchdog Cnil carried out checks at Worldcoin's Paris office. And in Kenya, where the project was tested, activities were suspended in August, recalls Ansa .

All the details.


The Worldcoin protocol aims to create an identity (World ID) and a financial network (based on the WLD cryptocurrency) on a global level. At the center of the project is the Orb, a biometric device that scans the face and iris, a unique identification code worldwide for each individual – World ID – capable, according to the Worldcoin Foundation, of distinguishing human beings from artificial intelligence products.


Sam Altman and co-founders Max Novendstern and Alex Blania have set themselves the ambitious goal of making Worldcoin a universally used cryptocurrency in developing countries – and the pair have long hinted at using the token's infrastructure to distribute coins. future universal basic income programs.


Although the startup received polarizing reviews, the company still attracted the attention of big investors like Andreessen Horowitz and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, Axios recalled last year.

According to Investors poured about $250 million into the company, including venture capital groups Andreessen Horowitz and Khosla Ventures, Internet entrepreneur Reid Hoffman and, before the collapse of his FTX empire, Sam Bankman-Fried.

The system has more than 1 million monthly active users, 4 million downloads and 22 million transactions. These are the official data of the platform released in November, while the attention of privacy authorities for the management of personal data is growing in various countries, Ansa notes today.


Even if the Orb devices are not yet functional in Italy, the Guarantor notes, Italian citizens can already download the World App from the app stores, provide the relevant personal data and reserve their free WLD tokens. Orb, World ID and World App, closely interconnected with each other, make up the Worldcoin ecosystem. From the information received from the company and from that available on its website, the Authority believes that the processing of biometric data based on the consent of the participants in the project, issued on the basis of insufficient information, cannot be considered a valid legal basis according to the requirements required by the European Regulation.

“Moreover, the promise of receiving free WLD tokens from Wordcoin negatively impacts the possibility of expressing free and unconditional consent to the processing of biometric data carried out through the Orbs. Finally, the risks of the processing are further amplified by the absence of filters to prevent access to the Orbs and the World App to minors under 18 years of age" concluded the Italian authority. The Guarantor's provision is being published in the Official Journal.


As already mentioned, in the rest of Europe and beyond, privacy regulators have already taken action against Worldcoin.

At the beginning of March, the AEPD, the Spanish data protection authority, asked Worldcoin to immediately stop collecting personal information in the country through scans and to stop using the data already collected. In late January, Hong Kong's privacy watchdog, the Personal Data Privacy Commission (“PCPD”), raided six Worldcoin locations. The authority conducted an investigation into Worldcoin's operations, suspecting that its practices of collecting sensitive personal data (e.g. iris information) may violate the Personal Data Privacy Ordinance.

Kenya has suspended new user registrations, while Germany and France have raised privacy concerns and launched their own investigations into Worldcoin's operations. Last December it emerged that Worldcoin had stopped scanning eyeballs in France, India and Brazil, even as the company tried to spin the retreat into a temporary scaling back, TechCrunch reports.


In recent days the company explained that it has made significant progress in terms of transparency and security. He announced, for example, that he had made Orb's software and hardware open source. The device's data is self-guarded "to give people full control over how to use and delete it," company co-founder Alex Blania explained on X-Twitter. Worldcoin also added that it has taken additional measures to ensure that only people over the age of 18 can verify at an Orb device.

This is a machine translation from Italian language of a post published on Start Magazine at the URL https://www.startmag.it/innovazione/altola-del-garante-privacy-al-progetto-worldcoin-di-sam-altman-openai/ on Tue, 02 Apr 2024 13:53:01 +0000.