Regulatory compliance, personal privacy and equitable access with Worldcoin
The Worldcoin launch in July resulted in global headlines as well as unprecedented demand for the project’s key products: a privacy-preserving digital identity built on proof of personhood (World ID) and, where laws allow, a crypto token (WLD).
The attention surfaced important questions: what are the intentions behind Worldcoin? Does Worldcoin comply with local laws? How is personal data treated? And why did certain countries get prioritized before others?
This post provides answers to these questions along with important context.
The Worldcoin mission
It’s estimated that more than 4 billion people worldwide lack a legal, digitally-verifiable identity. This severely limits participation in the global economy, as well as access to critical services and opportunities like healthcare, government aid, financial tools, education, freedom of movement and jobs.
Worldcoin aims to create a decentralized identity and financial network to meet the needs of a world with advanced AI—one that not only preserves but enhances personal privacy and is open to everyone regardless of their geography, education or income level. The project’s co-founders, Sam Altman and Alex Blania, outline this vision in their launch letter.
Regulatory compliance and engagement
To achieve its mission, Worldcoin combines several new technologies including blockchain, iris recognition, zero knowledge proofs, cryptography and digital identification. Contributors to Worldcoin are committed (through actions) to complying with regulatory requirements and being good partners with the communities and governments where Worldcoin is available.
Before Orb verifications are conducted in any country, local legal counsel is engaged to review Worldcoin and provide advice. The review is comprehensive, covering data protection and crypto regulations, among other topics like labor, hardware certifications, marketing and consumer protection. This information is used to tailor operations to local laws.
The Worldcoin Foundation and the contributor team at Tools for Humanity (TFH) are committed to working with regulatory bodies globally to ensure that Worldcoin continues to meet regulatory requirements and that the public is provided a safe, secure and transparent service. As an example, an outline and history of the project’s engagement with Kenya’s data protection authorities can be found in this document.
As part of this commitment, TFH works closely with elected officials, third parties and relevant associations to ensure visibility into the Worldcoin project before Orb verifications begin at scale. TFH also partners with organizations to support the homegrown blockchain ecosystem. For example:
- In Spain the TFH team is working closely with TechBarcelona and Adigital to strengthen the local tech ecosystem
- In Kenya, the TFH team is working with the Blockchain Association of Kenya to support grassroots blockchain projects seeking to grow in a complex regulatory environment
- In India, the TFH team is working with the Bharat Web3 Association to educate the Indian public as to the promise and possibilities of blockchain based technologies
Worldcoin and data privacy
Privacy is the bedrock of the Worldcoin project. The project does not and never will sell any user data.
By default, images captured by the Orb during the World ID verification process are promptly deleted. Unless individuals voluntarily opt in to have their data stored, all that remains is an iris code, or a mathematical representation of the texture of the iris that is not linked to an individual’s wallet or personal information, stored in an encrypted database. As a result, Worldcoin is completely private.
The Worldcoin Foundation and TFH have worked diligently to build robust privacy programs and assess how regulations governing personal data apply to Worldcoin’s use of cutting-edge cryptography, biometric and blockchain technologies. These regulations include the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”), Kenya’s Data Protection Act and Argentina’s Ley de Protección de los Datos Personales 25.326.
Additionally, the Foundation and TFH sought a third party to validate Worldcoin’s Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA). The external global law firm that performed the validation concluded that “the procedure chosen by TFH as part of the Worldcoin project as outlined in the DPIA complies with data protection requirements under the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).”
Availability of Orb-verified World IDs
Preparations for launching Worldcoin—the hardware, business model and communications approach—were made in more than two dozen countries on five continents over a span of two years.
Some countries, including Argentina, Chile, India, Kenya and Portugal, were intentionally prioritized for deeper involvement, as they brought diversity to the product’s development on axes like climate, cultural mores and diversity in physical characteristics (to help combat AI bias). Each also seemed open to the adoption of new technologies like Worldcoin based on measures like internet connectivity, adoption of mobile money and ownership of mobile phones. It was also important to observe how more sustained involvement could lead to network effects for the utility of World ID, the WLD token and TFH’s World App.
Today, Worldcoin is available in over 20 countries including Germany, Japan, Spain, Uganda and the United States. The project aims to reach everyone and does not target activities based on certain socio-economic conditions.
Additional privacy resources can be found at the following links:
If you’d like to learn more or stay informed about Worldcoin’s commitment to regulatory compliance, sign up for the blog newsletter at the bottom of this page or join the ongoing daily conversations on Twitter, Discord, YouTube and Telegram.
Eligibility for Worldcoin (WLD) tokens is restricted based on geography, age, and other factors. WLD are not intended to be available to U.S. residents. For details, go to: www.worldcoin.org/tos. Crypto products can be highly risky. Important User Information can be found at www.worldcoin.org/risks.