Worldcoin: Is Your Eye the Key to Wealth or your Doom?
A cryptocurrency that uses biometric identification to distribute basic income. Understand the controversies surrounding its privacy and security implications.
What is Worldcoin?
Worldcoin is a new controversial cryptocurrency created by Sam Altman, the head of OpenAI. The idea is to give Worldcoin to every person on Earth and to ensure everyone gets their fair share, Worldcoin has a unique way of checking who you are. It does so by scanning your eye's iris.
The Problem Worldcoin is Trying to Solve
Worldcoin is trying to solve a tricky problem. If you want to give something to every person on Earth, how do you ensure each person only gets one share? And how do you do this without knowing exactly who they are? Worldcoin's answer is a device called "the Orb", and if you watch the pictures you might think it's something that came straight out of a Terminator movie. However, that's not the case (at least we hope so), instead, it's a device that scans your eye to confirm you're a real and unique human being.
How does the Orb Work? The Orb is a device that scans your eye. It uses this scan to create a unique ID for the user, which is then linked to your Worldcoin account. The plan is to make lots of Orbs and give them out worldwide. By doing so, anyone could get an ID and receive their share of Worldcoin Tokens.
Concerns About Privacy and Security: Not everyone is happy with Worldcoin's plan, for example just recently Kenya suspended Worldcoin's operations. Plenty of people are worried about privacy, saying that the information the Orb collects could be used in ways that undermine people's privacy. Many are instead worried about security, believing that the Orb could be hacked and the information used to create fake IDs or that people could be forced to use it against their will, especially in countries with strict governments.
The Potential Benefits of Worldcoin: Despite the controversy, Worldcoin could bring some significant benefits. Providing a basic income could help to reduce poverty and inequality, and its unique approach to checking who's who could lead to new ways of managing digital identity and sharing resources.
The UK's Concerns About Worldcoin
The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), which looks after privacy, has started an investigation into Worldcoin. The ICO has said that Worldcoin's operations should be consensual and accessible and that people should be able to leave the project without affecting their privacy.
If Worldcoin doesn't meet specific standards set by the ICO, it could be fined up to 17.5 million pounds or 4% of the company's turnover. This isn't an empty threat as in April, the ICO fined TikTok 12.7 million pounds for breaking rules about the data of underage users.
In response to the ICO's comments, Worldcoin has declared on its official website that it follows all laws and rules about collecting and transferring biometric data, including the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). However, things could get more complicated because the GDPR may not apply in the UK anymore because of Brexit.
Despite the ICO's investigation, Worldcoin continues to launch worldwide, including in the UK. The project's devices, known as Orbs, which scan a user's eye in exchange for a World ID, are already in three locations in London. This situation is a reminder of the complex rules and regulations that digital money projects must follow.
Worldcoin is a bold vision for the future of digital money and identity, but it's important to remember the potential downsides. As digital identities become increasingly a part of our lives, we must think carefully about privacy and security and how these kinds of "futuristic" projects could impact our future. Only by addressing these concerns can we make sure that projects like Worldcoin can deliver on their promises without compromising our fundamental rights.