Besides the criticism of its method and storage of data collection, the project has also been subject to scrutiny over its onboarding of early adopters.
Argentina joins Germany, France, and Kenya on the list of governments to investigate the cryptocurrency project Worldcoin over privacy concerns. The country’s Agency for Access to Public Information (AAIP) announced on August 8 that it was looking into the collection, storage, and use of user data at Worldcoin to ensure that it is handled in line with privacy regulations.
Worldcoin started as a way to distinguish people from bots online and uses retinal scans to verify users, a method that has raised privacy concerns. The project’s WRLD token was launched on July 24 with over 2 million accounts already signed up.
The AAIP stated that the project has garnered “public notoriety in recent weeks due to the procedure of scanning the faces and irises of numerous individuals in exchange for financial compensation at different locations in Buenos Aires City and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Mendoza, and Río Negro.” It stated that Argentinians “have the right, whenever personal data is provided, to have clear and accessible information in relation to the assignment, use and purpose for which the data is collected and processed, especially with regard to sensitive data, such as biometric data.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Kenya’s government, through its minister of internal security, announced on August 2 that it was suspending Worldoin operations pending an investigation into the potential risk to citizens. Local media reports state that Kenyan law enforcement raided a Worldcoin office and seized equipment suspected to contain user data.
In Germany, the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision revealed that it was investigating the project over privacy concerns. The French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty has also described Worldcoin’s data collection methods as “questionable.” The United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office has also expressed similar concerns, stating that it would examine the project to ensure compliance with data laws.
However, in a statement to CoinDesk, Worldcoin stated that “the project complies with all laws and regulations governing the processing of personal data in the markets where Worldcoin is available, including but not limited to Argentina’s Personal Data Protection Act 25.326.”
Worldcoin was co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and raised $115 million in funding in May from Andreessen Horowitz, Bain Capital Crypto, and Distributed Global.
Besides the criticism of its method and storage of data collection, the project has also been subject to scrutiny over its onboarding of early adopters. A study conducted by MIT Technology asserts that Worldcoin’s first 1 million users were obtained by “deception, cash handouts and exploiting workers” in developing countries.