OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has been actively investigating the Worldcoin (WLD) project since late last year, expressing concerns about the extensive processing of sensitive biometric data.
Launched recently, Worldcoin requires users to undergo iris scans to obtain a digital ID and receive free cryptocurrency in select countries, as part of its mission to establish an “identity and finance network.”
Michael Will, the head of the German data supervisory agency, revealed in an email to Reuters that the Bavarian State Data Protection Supervisory Office has initiated an investigation into Worldcoin.
This move comes amid apprehensions that the project intends to process “sensitive data at a very large scale” using novel technologies. Will began researching the matter and intends to launch the investigation in November 2022.
As Worldcoin’s parent company, Tools For Humanity, has a subsidiary in Germany, the Bavarian state regulator assumes a pivotal role in probing the project under the European Union’s data protection rules.
The regulator aims to ascertain whether the new technologies employed in data processing for financial information transfer have been appropriately established and adequately analyzed.
Will highlighted several risks associated with Worldcoin’s approach, including the issue of user consent for processing highly sensitive biometric data. The adequacy and clarity of information provided to users for such data processing are paramount in maintaining data privacy and compliance.
Worldcoin maintains that users’ iris scan data is not correlated with personal information, emphasizing that user privacy remains a priority.
The French privacy oversight agency also expressed doubts about the legality of Worldcoin’s data collection, deeming it “questionable.” Additionally, the UK’s data regulator announced plans to conduct its own investigation into the project.