Sam Altman’s WorldCoin promised him free crypto for eyeball scans. Now they feel robbed.

Blania described a futuristic world pervaded by orbs of varying size and shape, where each person would be assigned a unique and anonymous code attached to their iris that they would use to log into a host of web and blockchain-based applications. to do these.

Blania didn’t rule out the possibility that WorldCoin would charge a fee for providing this service, but the startup plans to make money primarily through the appreciation of its currency. “Distribute the token to as many people as you can,” Blania said. Because of that, “the utility of the token increases dramatically” and “the price of the token increases.”

The key to all this technology is the Orb itself, and the contracts signed by Orb operators underscore the company’s focus on stress-testing. The contract says, “Your role is to help us evaluate the orbs and how people interact with them.” “You should think of yourself as a product tester.”

Blania told BuzzFeed News that the company was primarily using its field tests to see how the orbs performed in different environments — from the heat of Kenya to the cold of Norway. “It where 40-degree heat in Kenya, and the reflection on the orb is something we’ve never seen in the office in Germany,” Blania said.

Adam Schwartz, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the ambiguity about WorldCoin’s goals is troubling. “The question is, is this a digital currency company, or is it a data broker?” They said. “Either way, the practice at hand, which is paying people for their biometrics, is very problematic for privacy and equity.”

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“Worldcoin is not a data company and our business model does not involve the exploitation or sale of personal user data. Worldcoin is only interested in user exclusivity , ie, they haven’t signed up for WorldCoin before – not their identity,” WorldCoin said in a statement.

The company’s efforts to build its database may also violate data privacy and processing laws in Kenya, where the company has extensive operations. Kenya recently passed a data protection law that bars companies from transferring biometric data overseas without approval from the newly formed Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. Worldcoin currently processes user data in the US, UK, Germany, Japan and India in accordance with their data consent forms.

Immaculate Kasat, Kenya’s data commissioner, told BuzzFeed News that his office was “not aware” that WorldCoin was collecting biometric data from Kenyans and transferring it overseas.

The company has until July 14 to register itself with the commission and submit a detailed data protection impact assessment under Kenya’s newly implemented data privacy laws, Kasat said over email. WorldCoin told BuzzFeed News that the company will soon engage with the Data Commission of Kenya and has already done a “drastic” privacy impact assessment.

Brian Ford, who heads the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DEDIS) lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and wrote a pioneering paper on proof of personality in 2008, said that solving the authentication problem in a way that preserves user privacy Maintain significant progress. However, Ford is not convinced with Worldcoin’s solution. He added that the company’s decision to create and store a massive, centralized database of irises and iris-hashes is a gross invasion of user privacy.

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“We dispute the characterization that collecting images of WorldCoin users is an invasion of privacy: if collecting images of people with their consent was an invasion of privacy, clear” – Biometrics Identity Company – “United Nations and Aadhaar All attacks will be examples of privacy as well,” WorldCoin said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

Privacy advocates and security experts in India have long viewed Aadhaar, India’s massive biometric identification system, as a privacy nightmare. Experts also dispute whether WorldCoin has done enough to ensure that it has obtained informed consent from people, given that the company’s comprehensive terms and conditions, privacy policy and data consent forms are in English. .

“Informed consent means you are in a position to fully understand what is happening,” said Elias Okwara, Africa policy manager for the advocacy group Access Now, noting that the majority of Kenya’s population speaks Kiswahili. “So from the very beginning, it becomes difficult to explain to a person what is meant by data processing.”

WorldCoin said it would soon roll out its privacy forms in six languages ​​and suggested that orb operators were live-translating and explaining the company’s voluntary policies to non-English speaking people. “In all of these local countries, we have orb operators, and their entire purpose and role is to explain to people what they consent to in their local languages,” the company said.

Any large biometric database is also susceptible to hacking, Ford said, explaining that the database could be compromised if someone hacks into the thousands of orbs the company plans to distribute. “Basically no hardware can be reliably hacked,” Ford said.

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Blania acknowledged that “there were never unbroken hardware devices” but said that WorldCoin was building fraud-detection mechanisms to identify compromised orbs.

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