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Worldcoin Explores Partnership With OpenAI Amid Regulatory Pressure


Eyeball scanning digital ID startup Worldcoin is reportedly considering a partnership with tech company OpenAI

This exploration comes after months of privacy-focused scrutiny from regulators around the world. Alex Blania, CEO of Worldcoin parent Tools for Humanity, told Bloomberg News on Thursday (April 25) that some of that attention is due to Worldcoin’s co-founder: OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

“I think it’s just because of Sam,” Blania said. “Just, like, much more attention than you would usually face as a company of that size or a project of that size.”

His comments come nearly a month after Portugal’s data regulator ordered Worldcoin to halt its data collection for 90 days.

Worldcoin offers a digital ID and free cryptocurrency to users who sign up to have their faces scanned by one of its “orb” machines. But the CNPD, Portugal’s data watchdog, said it had gotten dozens of complaints about unwarranted collection of data from minors, “deficiencies in the information provided to the data subjects” and “the impossibility of erasing the data or withdrawing consent.” 

Weeks earlier, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) ordered Worldcoin to stop collecting user data in that country, and blocked the company from using the data it had already collected.

“The AEPD has received several complaints against this company about insufficient information, the collection of data from minors and the fact that consent cannot be withdrawn, among other infringements,” the agency said in a news release.

Blania told Bloomberg the company was working to make changes to ensure it was in compliance with Spain and Portugal’s regulators.

In the past, Worldcoin had employed an age verification feature built into its eyeball scanner that could determine if a person was too young to be registered. Blania said the company has since established an identity document verification process and now allows people to use its app, which has upwards of 10 million users, to ask that their IDs be deleted.

The report noted that Blania argued the need for validating whether someone is an actual person is more important and urgent than ever in the wake of the rising popularity of AI.

“With the progress of AI, all the things that we thought would happen, I think happened much faster than even we expected,” he said.

PYMNTS examined the debate surrounding biometrics in a report earlier this month, noting that while the technology offers “potential benefits such as enhanced security and streamlined processes, their implementation often comes with complexities and concerns, including privacy, data protection and implementation hurdles.”