The Risks of Iris Scanning for Cryptocurrency in Peru

  • Lennin Cenas points out that cybercriminals could use iris biometric data to impersonate identities.
  • Investigations in several countries question Worldcoin over concerns about privacy and biometric data security.

In Peru, consumer protection experts have raised serious concerns about the practice of iris scanning in exchange for cryptocurrency rewards, drawing attention to the significant risks associated with sharing such sensitive biometric data.

Jaime Delgado, a Peruvian lawyer and consumer advocate, has voiced strong opposition to the method employed by the Worldcoin project, likening it to “selling your organs.”

Delgado highlighted the dangers of trading crucial personal identification for minor economic benefits, suggesting that such an exchange could pose a severe threat to one’s future security. 

“Selling your eye’s iris for a few cents or your biometric identity feels akin to selling your organs,” 

Delgado stated, emphasizing the lack of assurances that the data will not be misused in the future.

The controversial cryptocurrency initiative continues to face criticism across Latin America. In Peru, particularly in the districts of Miraflores, Surco, and Lince in Lima, people are drawn to scan their irises at devices known as Orbs.

These locations register a daily influx of more than 500 individuals, each hoping to earn a handful of WLD tokens, worth approximately 180 Peruvian soles.

However, the use of such biometric data has raised alarms about potential misuse. Lennin Cenas, an engineer specializing in artificial intelligence, warned that cybercriminals could exploit iris data for identity theft.

 “The iris code is unique and lasts a lifetime. With the ongoing advancement of AI, it’s uncertain what might occur in the future or how much the technology will evolve,” Cenas explained, stressing the importance of guarding such personal information.

The implications of these privacy concerns are widespread, with several countries, including Chile, Mexico, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Kenya, Nigeria, Argentina, Spain, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Portugal, initiating investigations into Worldcoin. 

In some cases, such as Spain and Portugal, authorities have even moved to expel the project over privacy issues and concerns about the participation of minors in iris scanning.

Despite assurances from Worldcoin’s executives that the iris data is not stored and only used to verify human identities, skepticism remains. They have pledged to erase all data traces from the scanning devices, yet the controversy continues, highlighting a global apprehension about the security and ethical implications of such technology.

In Chile, despite criticisms, authorities are considering collecting biometric data from residents “to verify them,” claiming that it is safer to entrust such sensitive information to governments rather than private companies.

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