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UK Data Regulator to Probe OpenAI’s Crypto Project Worldcoin

Sujha Sundararajan
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: Pixabay / Michael Gehlert

The UK’s data regulator Information Commissioner’s Office is planning to conduct “further enquiries” on the OpenAI’s crypto project – Worldcoin.

According to a Reuters report, the data watchdog said Thursday that it will conduct an examination of Worldcoin, a crypto project that builds a reliable solution for distinguishing humans from AI online. The unique venture enables customers to scan their eyeball in exchange for a digital identification – “World ID” – and free cryptocurrency.

“We note the launch of WorldCoin in the U.K. and will be making further enquiries,” a spokesperson for the Information Commissioner’s Office, said.

The source further said that organizations need to have a “clear lawful basis to process personal data. Where they are relying on consent, this needs to be freely given and capable of being withdrawn without detriment.”

Worldcoin, the OpenAI project backed by CEO Sam Altman, launched Monday, describing itself as a “digital passport” to help users prove they are human. “Worldcoin consists of a privacy-preserving digital identity (World ID) and, where laws allow, a digital currency (WLD) received simply for being human,” the cofounders said during the launch.

Following the launch, the native coin WLD saw a significant price rise to $3.58, amid concerns from crypto traders and advocates. The token launch involved 143 million WLD being issued, where 100 million were allocated to market makers and the rest of the tokens were rolled out to investors who verified identity by scanning their eyeball at Worldcoin’s prelaunch.

The crypto project boasts two million user sign-ups during its initial trial phase and plans to expand its operations, involving scanning of users’ irises for identification, to 20 countries.

The Worldcoin spokesperson told CoinDesk that the project is “continuing to assess local laws and regulations to ensure compliance.”

With regard to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Worldcoin Foundation “is fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing biometric data collection and data transfer, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.”

The data regulator’s move to investigate the Worldcoin project comes at a time when there is an increase in data privacy concerns surrounding the use of eyeball scans. Speculators across the globe have raised questions on how the data is stored and secured, and measures taken to protect users’ privacy rights.

As a result, the project would likely come under increased scrutiny from regulators worldwide and the announcement from Brit’s data controller marks an important step in understanding the implications of Worldcoin.