Sam Altman’s Worldcoin promised them free crypto for an eyeball scan. Now they feel robbed.

Blania described a futuristic world filled with spheres of various shapes and sizes, where each person would be given a unique and anonymous code linked to their iris, which they could use to access multiple web and blockchain-based applications.

Blania did not rule out that Worldcoin would charge a fee to provide this service, but the startup plans to make money through the appreciation of its currency. “You give out tokens to as many people as you can,” Blania said. Because of this, “the utility of the token increases dramatically” and “the price of the token rises.”

The key to all this technology is Orb itself, and the contract that Orb operators are signing underscores the company’s focus on stress testing. “Your role is to help us evaluate the Orbs and how people interact with them,” the contract reads. “You should consider yourself a product tester.”

Blagna told BuzzFeed News that the company mainly used its field tests to see how the Orbs performed in different environments, from the heat of Kenya to the freezing cold of Norway. “In Kenya where it was 40 degrees and just the reflection of Gol is something we’ve never seen here in Germany in the office,” Blania said.

Adam Schwartz, a senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says the ambiguity about Worldcoin’s goals is troubling. “The question is, is this a digital currency company or is this a data broker?” he said. “In any case, the practice of paying people for their biometric data is highly problematic for privacy and fairness.”

“Worldcoin is not a data company and our business model does not involve exploiting or selling users’ personal data. Worldcoin only cares about the uniqueness of the user i.e. that they have not previously registered for Worldcoin, not their identity,” Worldcoin said in a statement.

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

Kenya’s data commissioner, Anbasir Kasait, told BuzzFeed News that his office was “not aware” that Worldcoin was collecting the biometric data of Kenyans and transferring it abroad.

The company has until July 14 to register with the commission and submit a detailed data protection impact assessment under Kenya’s newly implemented data privacy laws, Kasait said by email. Worldcoin told BuzzFeed News that the company will soon deal with the Data Commission of Kenya and has already conducted a “rigorous” privacy impact assessment.

Brian Ford, who directs the Decentralized/Distributed Systems (DEDIS) lab at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and wrote one of the pioneering papers on identity verification in 2008, said solving the authentication problem in a way that preserves user privacy. significant progress. Ford, however, is not convinced by Worldcoin’s solution. The company’s decision to build and store a giant centralized database of irises and irish-hashes is, he said, a massive invasion of user privacy.

“We dispute the characterization that collecting Worldcoin users’ pictures is an invasion of privacy; If collecting pictures of people with their consent is an invasion of privacy, CLEAR” (biometric identification company), “UN and Aadhaar would all be examples of invasion. also about privacy,” Worldcoin told BuzzFeed News in a statement.

Privacy advocates and security experts in India have long characterized Aadhaar, India’s massive biometric identification system, as a privacy nightmare. Experts also dispute whether Worldcoin did enough to ensure it got people’s informed consent, given that the company’s extensive terms and conditions, privacy policy and data consent forms are in English.

“Informed consent means you can fully understand what’s going on,” said Elias Okwara, Africa policy manager for the advocacy group Access Now, noting that the majority of Kenya’s population speaks Kiswahili. “So it immediately becomes difficult to explain to an individual what data processing means.”

Worldcoin said it will soon roll out its privacy form in six languages ​​and suggested that Orb operators translate and explain the company’s extensive policies live to people who don’t speak English. “We have Orb operators in all these local countries and their whole purpose and role is to explain to people what they are agreeing to in their local languages,” the company said.

Any large biometric database is also vulnerable to hacking, Ford said, explaining that the database could be compromised if someone hacks the thousands of Orbs the company plans to distribute. “Basically, no piece of equipment is reliably foolproof,” Ford said.

Blania admitted that “there has never been an uncracked hardware device,” but said Worldcoin is building fraud detection mechanisms to detect compromised orbs.

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