A member of the far-right German political party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has issued a stark warning against Worldcoin’s iris-scanning operations.
“The eye scanner was not developed for medical purposes, but serves to collect biometric data,” reads a translation of Christina Baum’s statement on the official AfD site. “These devices are used solely for the global monitoring of people.” Baum is a member of the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament.
She also claimed that users who scan their eyes can have their activities “permanently tracked,” including movement patterns and purchasing habits. “The transparent human being is thus becoming a reality. And that is more than frightening,” she said.”
The AfD is an extreme right-wing political party in Germany. It’s become known for its Euroscepticism and anti-immigration stance, as well as for peddling Islamaphobic narratives in the name of nativism. One of the party’s leading figures, Alexander Gauland, said in 2018 that “Hitler and the Nazis as just a speck of bird’s muck in more than 1,000 years of successful German history.”
Worldcoin is yet another project from the latest Silicon Valley Wunderkind Sam Altman, who is also the co-founder of OpenAI, the organization behind the massively popular AI-powered language model ChatGPT. The Worldcoin crypto project claims to promote a more human internet experience in a world that’s become overpopulated by robots and algorithms.
Worldcoin’s eye-scanning technology
Worldcoin has set up its signature “orbs” in locations all around the world, where people can scan their iris to create a WorldID in exchange for the project’s WLD token.
The project aims to create a new identity standard for the Internet era and has revealed plans to enable governments and businesses to use its identity-verifying technology.
Worldcoin’s official FAQ claims that no personal data is collected by default and that the iris scan is “immediately deleted once the iris code is created.”
Users can, however, opt-in to a more comprehensive data agreement which would give Worldcoin to store those images “for the purposes of training our algorithms.” This data can also be sent around the European Union and the United States should users opt in.
Neither Baum, the AfD party, nor Worldcoin have immediately responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.
Baum’s comments join a posse of other data watchdogs and countries issuing similar privacy concerns.
The Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision said that it had been probing Worldcoin since November 2022. Earlier this week, Kenya suspended the firm’s activities, while government agencies asses their “authenticity and legality.”
Both French and British data watchdogs have also raised concerns over the legality of collecting such high-risk data.
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