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The Worldcoin Controversy: Decentralized Digital Identity

This week, the news broke that the Data Protection Agency had adopted an unprecedented measure and ordered Worldcoin to cease its process of collecting biometric data from the iris of its users in Spanish territory.

So far, nearly 360,000 people have joined this project in Spain, and at the time of writing this post, there are nearly 4.2 million users worldwide!

Economista_Worldcoin el blog de Salvador Vilalta

After the intense noise generated in many media, I wanted to bring a little clarity about Worldcoin.
What it is, how its biometric identification system works and what lies behind the payment of an economic amount through the WLD cryptocurrency to verify your identity through a biometric data as sensitive as your own iris.

My position in this regard is clear. I have no desire for anyone to have my iris in a database I don’t control, but that said, This is not so unusual when we are providing biometric data such as our fingerprint to unlock devices. or our facial data to do exactly the same or to register an online bank account or perform a KYC (KnowYour Customer)….

The question at this point is where is this data stored, beyond a device using a particular brand’s proprietary technology?

Worldcoin_home Salvador Vilalta
Source: Worldcoin website

All this mess has a very relevant foundation for me and that is Decentralized Digital Identity. In fact I recently wrote a post on my blog talking about this: “Exploring Web3, the New Internet Frontier.

In this, I reflected on having an identity of which we can be absolute owners, that we decide what data we share, that does not depend on third parties, and that allows us to identify ourselves in any application or platform globally, avoiding having to use the current centralized identifications such as those you are using from Gmail, Facebook, Microsoft and many others.

Worldcoin proposes the creation of a universal identifier called World ID integrated with any application.

worldID Worldcoin
Source: Worldcoin website

This makes all the sense in the world as our privacy is being threatened by institutions and governments. It is important for us to be aware that everything that is coming our way in the next few years (sooner rather than later)

Marc Vidal Cartera Europea de Identificacion Digital

If there is someone who explains this very clearly, it is Marc Vidal, whom I deeply admire for his courage and perseverance in his Youtube channel and in all his interventions in the media. I leave you with one of his videos that explains this topic perfectly.
I would like to send you my admiration for the fantastic informative work that you are doing.

There is little more to say to Marc’s video only to warn of the dangers that all this poses to our freedom as individuals. I am convinced that we are facing the worst attack by institutions and governments whose ultimate goal is to control individuals in order to take away their ability to be free.

But, let’s take it one step at a time.

What is Worldcoin?

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency and blockchain technology project that has generated considerable interest in the technology and financial community. The company behind Worldcoin is Tools for Humanity, co-founded by Alex Blania and Sam Altman, who is also the CEO of OpenAI.

It consists of a Protocol comprising World ID, a biometric verification system, and Worldcoin, a digital currency issued to verified humans, and World App, an application that connects users to this protocol.

The Worldcoin project aims to create a more equitably distributed cryptocurrency with a focus on identity and privacy.

Worldcoin’s business model is based on the creation of a cryptocurrency that is distributed free of charge to anyone who verifies their identity using a device called“Orb“. The Orb scans the iris of people’s eyes to create a unique hash, making it possible to verify a person’s identity without storing sensitive biometric data. The idea is to ensure that each person receives an equal amount of the Worldcoin cryptocurrency, thus promoting a more equitable distribution.

Worlcoin_Escaneo Iris El blog de Salvador Vilalta

As for shareholders, since Worldcoin is part of a private company, Tools for Humanity, specific information about all of its shareholders is not publicly accessible. However, Sam Altman, one of the co-founders, is known to have a significant stake in the company. In addition, Worldcoin has received investment from various venture capital firms and other investors, but specific details about each of the shareholders are not fully transparent to the public.

I leave you with a video of the project “This is Worldcoin: Humanness in the age of AI”  perfectly explains its objectives and technology. This paper addresses the impact of AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) and the need to validate that there is a “…”.profile  human“The company’s CEO is introduced, the Worldcoin protocol is discussed, the system’s privacy measures are listed, and the concepts of decentralization and global inclusion are also addressed.

As you will see World ID differentiates between humans and AI or other entities online through a combination of advanced biometric verification and a unique hardware device known as the orb. The orb performs checks on the device using neural networks to ensure that the individual is a real human and is not wearing a mask, a screen, or any other deception. It then issues a certificate of proof of humanity called World ID. This system allows individuals to prove their human uniqueness on the Internet while maintaining privacy and inclusivity, making it a robust solution for authenticating human presence online.

What are the specific privacy protection measures that World ID offers to users?

In the video, World ID’s privacy measures are emphasized through three key layers of protection:

  • On-Device Verification: The orb performs all necessary verifications locally using neural networks. This means that the biometric data is processed on the device itself, without needing to be stored or processed elsewhere.
  • Separation of Biometrics and World ID: Your biometric data is used only to verify your identity and is not directly linked to your World ID. Even before visiting an orb, you can have a World ID, which is then marked as verified by the orb. This ensures that when you use your World ID online, it is not linked to your biometric information.
  • Application Specific Disposable IDs: When you use your World ID with different applications, you are not sharing your real ID. Instead, you generate a unique, disposable ID for each application. This prevents apps from tracking your activities on different services and provides a layer of privacy similar to the system Apple implemented to disrupt Facebook’s advertising model.

These measures collectively ensure that World ID is not only private, but one of the most privacy-centric systems available at this scale, protecting users’ biometric and identity data.

What is the Wordlcoin token used for?

The Worldcoin token, known as WLD, is used as a cryptocurrency to conduct transactions, purchase goods, services and participate in the global economy

This token is distributed free of charge to people in some countries in exchange for scanning their iris as a way of validating their unique, human identity.

Although a Universal Basic Income (UBI) was initially promised with this system (I will discuss this in later posts), it has generated distrust and concerns about privacy and security in several countries.

Despite the potential advantages in digital identification and access to financial services, the collection of sensitive biometric data poses risks to users’ privacy.

The technology behind Worldcoin seeks to guarantee the authenticity of transactions without revealing sensitive data, but it has generated controversy and is being investigated by authorities in several countries, in fact, in Spain it has just been stopped by the Data Protection Agency.

Worldcoin for ever human
How does Worldcoin's decentralized governance structure benefit the project and its users?

Worldcoin’s decentralized governance structure benefits the project and its users in several significant ways:

  • Resistance to External and Internal Threats: Decentralization ensures that there is no single point of control or failure that can be compromised. This resistance protects the system both from external attacks and from internal mismanagement or corruption.
  • Community Empowerment: Worldcoin governance is designed to transition to a model where all of humanity has a voice, reflecting a democratic approach where every individual can potentially contribute to the decision-making process.
  • Non-Profit Oversight: The Worldcoin Foundation, a non-profit entity, owns all critical intellectual property, ensuring that the project’s objectives are aligned with the public good rather than profit motives. This arrangement is intended to maintain the integrity of the project and its commitment to its core principles over time.
  • Trust and Network Ownership: By distributing ownership of the digital currency to globally verified humans, Worldcoin fosters a sense of trust and community investment in the network’s success, which could accelerate adoption and beneficial network effects.

These aspects are designed to build a robust, equitable, and resilient system where the interests of users are paramount and the network benefits from collective oversight and contribution.

The orbe Worldcoin

The decision to scan your iris with Worldcoin is a personal one. It is important that you inform yourself about the risks and benefits before making a decision. Having said all this, it is important that before scanning your iris:

  • Research the company, its privacy policies, and security history. Consider the risks: Weigh the potential benefits against the risks of sharing your biometric information.
  • Protect your information: Do not share your biometric information with anyone you do not trust.
  • Stay informed: Follow news and updates on biometric data regulation.
My personal opinion of this project and why it is being so controversial is as follows:
  • It is a project of some scale that is already attracting attention for aspects such as payment with its cryptocurrency (WLD) for digital ID verification (proving that you are a human being). Everything that has to do with cryptocurrencies is automatically questioned by institutions and governments in a totally twisted and self-serving way.
  • It is an “attack” on institutions and governments that intend to do the same but in a centralized manner. For me, a project that attempts just the opposite, that is to say, to achieve a Decentralized Identity, has my full respect and admiration. What he posed this week has a lot to do with this.
  • The media is doing a poorly informed follow-up on this project. In fact, the other day I heard my dear Carlos Herrera (I am a match) say something like that for the Iris scanning, the company paid with Bitcoins… in this sense, it would be important that the information be much more verified and contrasted.
  • It is not helping to mix concepts such as UBI (Universal Basic Income) with the Digital Identifier. the idea is very good but very controversial and it is easy to “tortiously mix” the concepts to discredit it.
  • The concept itself seems to me to be a fantastic, advanced and disruptive idea that goes along the lines of guaranteeing our independence and sovereignty as human beings.
  • However, all this being said, I have many doubts about the use that will be made of such sensitive data as the biometrics of my iris. Although technically the company explains very advanced security concepts related to the storage of this information in the form of a hash and the actual deletion of the images taken by the Orb.
  • We are happily sharing biometric information, such as fingerprints or images of our faces, that allows us to identify a user. Another issue to reflect on.

Additional resources:

I hope this content has been of interest to you and will enable you to make more informed decisions.

Have a good week!

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