Worldcoin beefs up security by open-sourcing biometric data system

As organizations increasingly rely on biometric data for various applications, from access to physical spaces to financial services, the frequency and impact of data breaches continue to escalate. 

On May 15, the Worldcoin Foundation, the organization behind the Worldcoin iris biometric cryptocurrency project, announced that it open-sourced its secure multi-party computation (SMPC) system.

The new SMPC system, which is responsible for encrypting iris codes into secret shares held by multiple parties, enables the Worldcoin Foundation to permanently delete iris codes generated through its previous uniqueness-checking system.

Remco Bloemen, the head of protocol at Worldcoin Foundation, told Cointelegraph that this development, open-sourcing the SMPC system, offers a potential solution for “enhanced biometric data security.”

„With the development and open sourcing of a new secure multi-party computation (SMPC) system, Worldcoin Foundation aims to continue to increase the robustness of the Worldcoin protocol while also setting a new standard for security. „

The Worldcoin Foundation said that its SMPC approach is even effective against quantum computing. 

A report by Fortune Business Insights released on April 29 predicted that the global biometric system market will grow from $30.77 billion in 2022 to $76.70 billion by 2029.

Meanwhile, research from MIT’s Stuart Madnick revealed that there has been a significant rise (20%) in data breaches between 2022 and 2023, with the number of affected individuals doubling.

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Worldcoin Foundation data protection officer Jannick Preiwisch, said the Worldcoin community is committed to developing and deploying advanced privacy-focused technologies to improve trust online and increase access to the global economy. 

“The development of this new system demonstrates an unparalleled commitment to further compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation and other data protection regimes across the world.”

He said it also “complements” Worldcoin’s intention to provide users more of a choice — and control — as to where their data is going, including personal custody and the ability to un-verify their World IDs.

Worldcoin has previously found itself in hot water with regulators around the world — and in Europe in particular with its GDPR measures — over its practices with user data. 

However, it has since taken measures to signal its willingness to comply. In March 2024, it made the software of its iris-scanning Orb open-source and implemented a new “personal custody” privacy feature for user data.

A month later, in April, it said it would be tightening privacy checks and allowing users to un-verify their World ID.

At the beginning of this year, Worldcoin saw new milestones for its active daily user count, which soared past one million for its wallet app. It also saw its token WLD surge by 141%.

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