As privacy issues continue to hound Worldcoin, Argentina is the latest country to open a probe into the operation of the identity-focused project.
In an official disclosure, the government said the country’s data privacy watchdog, Public Information Access Agency, will initiate the investigation with a focus on how Worldcoin obtains and stores users’ personal data. There was no mention of what measures that will be taken in case of a breach.
Users obtain Worldcoin, the native digital currency of the project, by having their iris scanned by “Orbs” strategically located globally. With an Orb situated in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires, several residents have had their irises examined at the facility, but the status of obtained personal data raises concerns.
“Cases like this show the need to strengthen the current legal framework regarding the Protection of Personal Data,” read the official statement. “Citizens have the right, whenever personal data is provided, to have clear and accessible information in relation to the transfer, use, and purpose for which the data is collected and processed, especially with regard to sensitive data, such as biometrics.”
Despite the suspicion of poor handling of sensitive data, the project clarifies that such data is protected using state-of-the-art internal systems. Worldcoin says the iris structure is used to generate a unique code (IrisHash) that is saved on the project’s distributed ledger. As an added layer of protection, scans cannot be traced to specific individuals.
After the completion of the investigation, several options are available to Argentina, including toeing Kenya’s path of a blanket suspension of the project. Kenya has already announced the suspension of Worldcoin’s operation in the country, with local police raiding and seizing the project’s equipment.
Germany is also investigating Worldcoin’s operation, with the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision taking the lead position in the investigations. In France, the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty described the project’s handling of sensitive data as “questionable.”
Privacy issues threaten the future of innovation
While innovation appears to be moving at a breakneck pace, privacy issues have continued to threaten their development. The field of artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be the hardest hit, with a slew of class-action lawsuits against leading AI developers over alleged violations of privacy laws.
Consumer watchdogs on both sides of the Atlantic push governments to launch AI regulations to safeguard privacy rights. Critics say AI firms like OpenAI, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), and Meta (NASDAQ:META) rely on personal data to train their generative AI models.
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