South Korea Launches Probe into Worldcoin’s Data Collection Practices

Key Insights:

  • South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Committee investigates Worldcoin’s biometric data practices amid global privacy concerns.
  • Worldcoin’s approach to establishing a universal basic income system faces scrutiny as regulators in multiple countries examine its handling of sensitive personal information.
  • Despite privacy issues, Worldcoin maintains a substantial user base, with over 3.9 million sign-ups and significant daily wallet transactions.

In a recent development, South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Committee has initiated an investigation into Worldcoin, the digital identity project, over concerns related to collecting and processing sensitive information. The inquiry, sparked by complaints, includes scrutiny into collecting facial and iris recognition data at approximately 10 locations in Korea.

Worldcoin, spearheaded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has faced global backlash, with regulators from Germany, France, Britain, and Hong Kong investigating the project’s practices in managing biometric information. The Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner, Chung Liling, has already cautioned the public about the risks of participating in Worldcoin’s iris scanning activities.

Despite these privacy concerns, Worldcoin has amassed a staggering 3.9 million sign-ups in early March, accompanied by over 450,000 daily wallet transactions. The project, which aims to establish a universal basic income system through regular cryptocurrency grants, employs a device called the “Orb” for iris scanning to ensure fair distribution.

The Worldcoin Foundation, defending its practices, stated that the project’s goal is to facilitate access and participation in the global digital economy while preserving privacy. They assert that Worldcoin does not seek to identify individuals but only verify their unique humanness, with any information used for verification promptly deleted by default.

However, the controversy has led to Worldcoin temporarily halting its orb verification service in India, Brazil, and France. The ongoing investigations by the South Korean committee will examine the overall collection and overseas transfer of personal information. The committee plans to act if violations of the Personal Information Protection Act are identified.

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