Worldcoin tightens privacy checks, allows users to unverify World ID

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Worldcoin, the digital identity and cryptocurrency project built by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, is adding new features to increase the protection of personal data and improve age verification.

On April 9, Worldcoin announced two updates: The ability to unverify World IDs via permanent iris code deletion and in-person age verification checks.

World ID holders can now unverify their World ID, which serves as a digital passport that verifies an individual’s humanness using “orbs,” which are devices that scan users’ eyeballs to confirm that they are real humans.

OpenAI CEO Sam Altman being scanned for Worldcoin. Source: Vulcan Post

Unverifying the World ID includes permanently deleting the user’s iris code, a numeric representation of their unique iris texture. The iris code ensures that individuals can only verify one World ID.

Once deletion is requested, the individual‘s World ID will become invalid. To protect against fraud, the procedure will require a six-month “cool-off” period to ensure that individuals cannot immediately re-verify humanness.

By the end of the cool-off period, users will have their iris code permanently deleted and made unrecoverable.

Worldcoin’s new unverify option was developed in consultation with third-party privacy and security experts, including the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision (BayLDA).

According to the startup, BayLDA is Worldcoin’s lead supervisory authority in the European Union.

The second update — Worldcoin in-person age verification checks — are introduced to help ensure that the platform is available only to humans above the age of 18 years old.

The update includes an on-site age verification check at all orb locations before World ID verification. Third-party personnel will perform the check before entering the venue, the announcement notes.

“Worldcoin has always required that individuals be a minimum of 18 years old to obtain a World ID,” a spokesperson for Worldcoin told Cointelegraph, adding:

“Individuals have always been asked to confirm they meet this requirement in the app, similar to other apps in wide use today.”

Altman, the creator of OpenAI — the firm behind the natural language processing chatbot ChatGPT — launched Worldcoin in July 2023 with the goal of providing a “global financial and identity network based on proof of personhood.”

Worldcoin received mixed reactions from the community as many questioned its centralization, privacy and security.

Related: TON’s $5M incentive program aims to drive digital ID verification

Some governments have also been skeptical about Worldcoin’s security and privacy. Worldcoin’s European Union supervisor, BayLDA, reportedly began an investigation into Worldcoin due to privacy concerns months before its official launch.

In late 2023, Worldcoin paused the offline orb verification function for users in India and aims to reinstate the service later in 2024.

In August 2023, Worldcoin was banned in Kenya, with the government halting all local activity associated with the platform, including biometric identification. Worldcoin has been working with the Kenyan government to resume operations.

In March 2024, Worldcoin declared that it operated lawfully in all of the locations in which it is available and fully complies with related laws.

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