Deception and exploitation : How Worldcoin recruited its first million test users

Worldcoin was founded by Sam Altman, who also founded OpenAI, the company
behind ChatGPT. Worldcoin is an iris biometric cryptocurrency project that
has scanned and stored the eyes of millions of people across the world.

Apart from invading our shopping malls to harvest eye iris data, I’ve now
seen they are operating from inside supermarkets, most recently from inside
Quickmarts in Nairobi.

This is an important discussion because Worldcoin has been operating in
Kenya for more than a year, collecting biometric iris scans of the
uninformed consenting public. We had a discussion here, and it was not
clear if the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) had given
content for such eternal personally identifiable data to be collected.

The privacy implications of Worldcoin collecting biometric iris scans of
poor people are significant.

1) The data could be used to track people’s movements and activities. Iris
scans are unique to each individual and can be used to identify people even
if they are wearing disguises. This means that Worldcoin could track poor
people’s movements, including where they go, who they meet, and what they
do. This could be used to target them for marketing or surveillance
2) The data could be used to discriminate against poor people. Iris scans
could be used to deny poor people access to services or opportunities. For
example, a bank could use iris scans to deny a loan application from a poor
person, or an employer could use iris scans to reject a job application
from a poor person.
3) The data could be hacked or stolen. If the data is hacked or stolen, it
could be used to commit identity theft or other crimes. This could have a
devastating impact on poor people, who may not have the resources to
recover from identity theft.
4. Obtaining informed consent is essential when collecting sensitive
biometric data. Poor individuals may not fully understand the implications
of providing their biometric data or may feel pressured to participate due
to their socio-economic situation, potentially leading to uninformed or
coerced consent.
5. There’s a concern that the initial purpose of collecting biometric data
for cryptocurrency verification might evolve into other uses without
adequate consent or oversight, leading to function creep and expanded

Informed consent is a process in which data subjects give permission for
something to happen after they have been given and understood all the
relevant information about it. Informed consent requires data subjects to
understand the purpose of the data collection. This is one of the four
elements of informed consent, along with information, comprehension, and
voluntariness. There are some concerns about Worldcoin’s consent process.

1. The consent form is not clear about what data is being collected. The
consent form does not explicitly state that Worldcoin is collecting
biometric data, such as iris scans. Instead, the form simply states that
Worldcoin is collecting “personal data.” This could lead users to believe
that they are only giving consent to the collection of non-sensitive
personal data, such as their name and address.
2. The consent form is not easy to understand. The consent form is written
in complex legal language that is difficult for many people to understand.
This could make it difficult for users to understand what they are
consenting to.
3. The consent form is not easy to revoke. Once users have given consent to
Worldcoin to collect their biometric data, it is difficult to revoke their
consent. Users must send a written request to Worldcoin, and the company is
not required to delete the data immediately.

There is an exciting read from MIT claiming that Worldcoin has built a
biometric database from the bodies of the poor using deceptive practices:
Read along here

Which direction should African and global majority countries take in regard
to Western companies harvesting personally identifiable data from their

Best Regards,
Mwendwa Kivuva, Nairobi, Kenya