Worldcoin field-testing methods draw controversy

Occurred: August 2023

Worldcoin raised concerns among regulators and privacy advocates around the world due to an alleged lack of transparency regarding the methods the organisation is using to collect people’s data.

In April 2022, internal documents shared with Technology Review and Buzzfeed News revealed that people signing up for Worldcoin iris scans were complaining about unclear, misleading, and unethical marketing practices

Specifically, it was alleged that the organisation was collecting more personal data than it acknowledged, failing to obtain meaningful informed consent, and had not been declaring that it was using user data to train its artificial intelligence models.

Furthermore, Orb operators in a number of countries complained that they had not been paid for users they had signed-up, and faced harassment and arrest under local laws. 

The controversy was seen to raise serious questions about Worldcoin's governance and transparency, and it’s approach to privacy and data collection.

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Operator: Tools for Humanity/Worldcoin  
Developer: Tools for Humanity/Worldcoin
Country: Global
Sector: Banking/financial services
Purpose: Develop digital identity
Technology: Iris scanning; Facial detection; Vital signs detection; Blockchain; Virtual currency
Issue: Ethics/values; Privacy
Transparency: Governance; Marketing