Worldcoin makes Orb software open-source, implements ‘personal custody’

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The Worldcoin Foundation announced in a blog post that it has open-sourced components of the software running its iris-scanning Orbs, making it publicly available. 

According to the announcement the core components of the Orb software can be accessed on GitHub under an MIT/Apache 2.0 dual license. The new open-source components “complement” hardware it previously released.

The release includes code on the Orb which is crucial for capturing images and securely transferring them to the product’s app.

Worldcoin said that its publicly available software and iris recognition repositories mark “significant progress” in creating transparency for the Orb’s image processing, along with verifiable privacy claims.

In addition to open-sourcing more of the software behind the infamous metallic, eye-scanning Orb, Worldcoin revealed another privacy feature called “Personal Custody.” 

This new feature allows individual users to self-custody their data given over to Worldcoin through a data package signed with the Orb’s private key and then encrypted with a user-provided public key before it is transferred to the user’s mobile phone.

The developer said this means that users will “always remain in control of their data,” and only the individual can decrypt this biometric data. Worldcoin said:

“Once the encrypted data is sent from the Orb to the individual’s World App, no unencrypted copies of this data exist anywhere.”

According to the developer, the feature could potentially reduce the number of times users would need to return to an Orb to verify their World ID.

Related: Data privacy and security concerns worry nearly half of tech industry consumers: Report

This update to Worldcoin comes as the company faces scrutiny from global regulators over privacy concerns. On March 21, the Kenyan government denied a request from the United States government to revoke its suspensions of the Worldcoin project.

The government said it would ban Worldcoin activities in the country until it can be assured of its safety for the Kenyan people and integrity of financial details are provided.

On March 18, Worldcoin posted on its blog that it operates “lawfully in all of the locations in which it is available” and is fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing data collection and data transfer.

However, earlier in March, it received more pushback. This time, the Spanish Agency for the Protection of Data demanded that Worldcoin stop collecting and processing data locally and issued a temporary ban on its operations.

Worldcoin was co-founded by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the firm behind artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbot ChatGPT. OpenAI is also currently facing scrutiny for its decision not to open-source its code for its AI models.

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