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Germany’s AfD Party Says Worldcoin Eyeball Scanning is for “Global Surveillance of People”

The controversial eyeball-scanning technology and its digital ID system can be used by governments. Worldcoin says the system is private.

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Christina Baum, a representative of the German political party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), issued a sobering advisory regarding Worldcoin’s eye-scanning technologies.

Her discernments stem from Worldcoin’s distinctive “orbs” which are installed around the world for iris scanning – technology that converts the scans into WorldIDs, offering the project’s WLD tokens as an incentive. Baum cautions that these devices are designed “to collect biometric data.” Indicating them as means for “the global monitoring of people,” she raised unsettling claims about their ultimate potential to track individuals’ activities, movements, and purchasing habits.

“The transparent human being is thus becoming a reality. And that is more than frightening,” Baum states on the AfD’s official site. This commentary, as alarming as it may be, parallels the narratives of numerous data protection agencies worldwide.

Worldcoin, an endeavor of Silicon Valley’s most recent star, Sam Altman, who co-founded OpenAI, behind the widely recognized AI language model ChatGPT, boasts of championing a “human” internet experience within a digital realm overrun by robots and algorithms. Yet, the paradox here is that the project also envisions facilitating governments and enterprises with identity-affirming technology.

Despite contentiousness around its operations, Worldcoin maintains in its official FAQ that it does not amass personal data by default. The FAQ assures that the iris scans are promptly deleted post the creation of the iris code. It does, however, allow users the option for a broader data agreement. This agreement would permit Worldcoin to retain those images to train their algorithms, and even transfer this data around the European Union and the United States.

Baum’s assessment aligns with the apprehensions of other data guardians and countries about potential privacy infringements. It is important to note that she neither speaks in isolation nor do her remarks mark the initial wave of scrutiny. For instance, the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision has been examining Worldcoin since November 2022. Additionally, this week even Kenya, which is keen on introducing a digital ID, suspended the company’s operations as governmental institutions scrutinize its “authenticity and legality.”

Continuing this trend of increasing caution, data protection watchdogs in France and the United Kingdom have also expressed qualms about the legality of collecting such sensitive data.

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