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Worldcoin expands to Ecuador, set to resume in Kenya and Portugal

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Worldcoin expands to Ecuador, set to resume in Kenya and Portugal
 

Chalk up a win for Worldcoin in Kenya, where authorities have dropped their investigation into the iris biometrics and digital identity company owned by Tools for Humanity. Reuters reports that, after suspending the firm’s activities last year amid allegations that it was violating privacy laws and endangering state security, police have ultimately decided that all is well. 

A letter from Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to Worldcoin’s lawyers confirms that, “upon review of the file, the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that the file be closed with no further police action.” 

Thomas Scott, chief legal officer at Tools for Humanity, says Worldcoin is “grateful for the DCI’s fair investigation and for the Director of Public Prosecutions’ determination to close the matter.”  

The ruling opens the door for Worldcoin to once again begin collecting iris biometric scans from Kenyans in exchange for WLD cryptocurrency tokens. Should it stick as a validation of the company’s activities, it could have a ripple effect on the host of other countries that are taking a microscope to Worldcoin’s biometrics business. Many have expressed concerns about communications and consent, and some have asked whether Worldcoin has collected biometrics from minors. 

Worldcoin coming to Ecuador, rallies support as Portugal pause nears end

Despite its regulatory headaches, Worldcoin has proceeded apace in expanding its operations to new territories. On its website, the company has announced imminent deployments in Ecuador. “Verifications will be available at six locations across two Ecuadorian cities, starting with the port city of Guayaquil on June 26 and, a day later, the capital Quito on June 27,” says the post. 

Interested Ecuadorians will be able to scan their iris biometrics using the company’s spheroid Orb enrollment devices, thereby gaining a World ID that Worldcoin calls “proof of humanness.” 

Worldcoin has seen enthusiastic pickup in Latin America, with users across Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Argentina, which it plans to make its regional hub.   

A separate blog notes the warm embrace Worldcoin has received from its Portuguese users. A 48-hour survey the company sent to its roughly 20,000 verified World ID holders in Portugal “shows that residents support the return of Worldcoin and feel safe using it.” 

Ninety percent of survey respondents said they support the return of Worldcoin operations to Portugal, though seven percent were unsure.

Portuguese data protection authorities are not as sure; in late March, they ordered Worldcoin to pause operations for 90 days to assess what they considered a high risk to citizens’ data protection rights. The order will expire sometime in the next two weeks, which explains the company’s fishing for support in the country.  

Worldcoin’s promises are familiar to digital ID observers: personal custody of data for users, encrypted biometrics, zero knowledge proofs. However, much of their statistical framing hinges on the question of “global support for proof of humanness.” In this context, that means agreeing that technology can help differentiate humans from bots online – for instance, AI bots powered by ChatGPT, which was created by Sam Altman, co-founder of Worldcoin. 

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