Worldcoin, the high-profile cryptocurrency venture spearheaded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, is facing privacy concerns as a black market has emerged for the biometric information that is required for the project’s verification process.
A Gizmodo report states that individuals in China have been acquiring detailed iris scans to gain access to the Worldcoin beta network. This unexpected development poses significant privacy and security challenges to the rapidly growing cryptocurrency industry.
Worldcoin “Orb” verification
The crux of this issue lies in the Worldcoin “Orb,” a device designed to capture precise images of users’ irises and generate anonymized accounts in return for free cryptocurrency tokens. This biometric verification process aims to authenticate users as “human” in an increasingly AI-driven digital world. Altman envisions a form of universal basic income granted to individuals based on proof of humanity.
Unfortunately, this ground-breaking identification method has opened the floodgates to exploitation. BlockBeats, a China-based crypto publication, initially reported that people in China, where Worldcoin is not currently operational, were procuring iris scans from residents of Cambodia, Kenya, and other nations for prices as low as $30 per scan.
Worldcoin’s stance on allegations
In response to the issue, Worldcoin communicated with Gizmodo, stating that the primary concern arises from verified “World IDs” sold through third-party black market apps rather than actual iris scans. These World IDs effectively confirm an individual’s uniqueness.
Worldcoin has identified only “a few hundred instances” of fraudulent IDs. To mitigate abuse, it is already implementing measures to revise the signup process, such as employing dynamic QR codes rather than static codes.
Additionally, Worldcoin has announced plans to create a new recovery process for misplaced World IDs, reflecting its prioritization of user interests.
Previous security lapses
This is not the first time that Worldcoin has grappled with security-related complexities. TechCrunch revealed that hackers installed malware on some Orb operators’ devices, which compromised login credentials and put user information at risk.
Although Worldcoin vehemently denies that any sensitive biometric data was accessed, the absence of two-factor authentication for Orb operator logins represents a notable security oversight.
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