The Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision (BayLDA) has initiated an investigation into the human identity verification project known as Worldcoin, citing concerns over the handling of biometric data. According to a report from Reuters on July 31, this investigation was launched in November 2022. Worldcoin’s primary objective was to differentiate real individuals from bots by utilizing retinal scans for identity verification, and the project garnered significant attention, with over 2 million sign-ups prior to the launch of its token in July.
The collection and use of retinal scan data by Worldcoin drew the scrutiny of BayLDA, with the President, Michael Will, expressing reservations about the technologies’ readiness and analysis for secure financial data transfers. As a result, there were potential risks for Worldcoin users.
The project’s data collection methods also came under criticism from the French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty, who questioned their legality and ethics. Similarly, the Information Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom raised similar concerns over Worldcoin’s approach to data privacy and biometric information.
Worldcoin ambitious goal
Tools For Humanity, the company behind the Worldcoin project, has a subsidiary based in Germany, but the initiative has been attracting interest from users worldwide. Since its token launch in July, the co-founder of Worldcoin, Sam Altman, reported that a new person was being “verified every 8 seconds” through iris scans, highlighting the widespread usage of the project’s biometric verification system.
Several prominent figures in the cryptocurrency space have weighed in on the project, with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Block CEO Jack Dorsey providing their perspectives. Many crypto enthusiasts have lauded the potential benefits of Worldcoin, particularly in scenarios where it could help compensate those affected by the collapses of entities like Three Arrows Capital and FTX.
The project’s ambitious goal to use retinal scans for identity verification has sparked debate and garnered attention from data protection authorities and prominent figures in the cryptocurrency community. While some see potential benefits in its innovative approach, others express concerns about the security and ethical implications of handling sensitive biometric data.