People are having their eyes scanned all over the world in exchange for a digital ID and the promise of free cryptocurrency, dispelling worries from privacy advocates and data regulators.
The Worldcoin project was started by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT. It claims to aim to build a new “identity and financial network” and that its digital ID will enable users to show online that they are human and not a robot, among other things.
On Tuesday, attendees of a crypto conference in Tokyo lined up in front of a shining silver globe that was accompanied by signs reading “Orbs are here.” Before waiting for the 25 free Worldcoin tokens the corporation says verified users can collect, applicants lined up to have their irises scanned by the equipment.
Users told Reuters that they balanced their privacy worries against their interest in the initiative, which claims to have provided IDs for more than two million people in 120 countries, primarily during a test phase over the past two years.
The risk of allowing a firm to gather information from your own eyes is present, but Saeki Sasaki, 33, enjoys keeping up with the most recent cryptocurrency developments.
“I was a little afraid, but now that I’ve done it, I can’t go back.”
Data collected by Worldcoin is a “potential privacy nightmare,” according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a privacy advocacy group in the United States.
Inquiries from Reuters on Worldcoin’s privacy practices were submitted to the company through email on Tuesday. According to the company’s website, the initiative is “completely private” and customers can choose to have their biometric data destroyed or encrypted before it is saved.
FREED MONEY PROMISED
On Monday, two Worldcoin reps demonstrated to a small crowd how to download the app and get scanned while also giving away free t-shirts and stickers that read “verified human” in the foyer of an east London co-working space.
The 34-year-old graphic designer Christian claimed that he was “intrigued” by the opportunity to participate. He purchases cryptocurrencies “just for fun” and keeps up with developments in both artificial intelligence (AI) and cryptocurrency.
He remarked, declining to offer his full name out of respect for his privacy, “I think going forward AI will be hard to distinguish from human and I think this potentially solves that problem and that’s pretty amazing.”
On Tuesday, Worldcoin tokens were trading at about $2.30 on Binance, the biggest market in the world. The prospect of financial benefit from cryptocurrency was enough to persuade many people to provide personal information.
The 25 free tokens might be sold for between $70 and $80 at the present price, according to Ali, a 22-year-old chemical engineering student who has put some of his student loan money into cryptocurrencies.
“I mentioned it to my brother this morning. I asked him, “You want to come with me to get the free money? ”
Christian and Ali both said they had not read Worldcoin’s privacy statement, which states that data may be sent to contractors and may be accessible by governments and authorities, while it also states that steps are taken to reduce risks and that encryption is used to prevent unauthorized access.
Ali stated, “It’s quite worrying, because I believe a lot of companies have our data at this point.
Big Brother Watch, a UK privacy advocacy group, warned that there was a chance that biometric data may be compromised or misused.
Senior advocacy officer Madeleine Stone stated that “digital ID systems rarely live up to the extraordinary benefits technocrats tend to attribute to them” and instead increase state and corporate control over people’s lives.
Regulators were also interested in the idea; the British data authority revealed to Reuters that it was looking into the Worldcoin debut in the UK.
On Tuesday, orb-operators approached onlookers in a mall in Bengaluru, India, and instructed them on how to sign up. The majority of those questioned by Reuters claimed they had no privacy concerns.
Sujith, an 18-year-old business student who is a new user, claimed he did not read the tiny print and had no actual privacy concerns. He claimed that he uses the meager pocket money from his family to invest in cryptocurrencies.
“While I was walking by, someone asked if I wanted any free coins. So, I figured, why not?” he asked.