Ethereum Co-founder Raises Concerns Over Worldcoin’s Proof-of-Personhood System

July 27, 2023

By Anjali Kochhar

Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, has expressed concerns regarding OpenAI CEO Sam Altman’s latest cryptocurrency project, Worldcoin. In a blog post published on Monday, Buterin outlined four major issues with Worldcoin’s user authentication system called “Proof-of-Personhood” (PoP), which was launched this week on the mainnet.

Worldcoin claims that it can verify users without storing personal data or relying on a central authority. Users are required to scan their irises using a device called an “Orb” to obtain a unique “World ID.” Apps like Worldcoin’s wallet application can then use this network of verified users to enhance their services and combat bots.

But Buterin has raised several concerns about this system. Firstly, he argues that scanning one’s iris may inadvertently release more information than intended. If someone else gains access to a World ID holder’s iris scan, they could cross-reference it with the Worldcoin database, revealing whether that person is part of the system. Additionally, the “Orb” device might not be readily accessible to everyone, making it difficult for some individuals to obtain a World ID.

Moreover, Buterin questions the security of the “Orb” device itself, as there is no way to guarantee that it is free from potential backdoors or vulnerabilities. He also points out that the Worldcoin Foundation retains the ability to insert backdoors, allowing them to create fake human identities.

Another major concern is related to the security of users’ phones. If phones get hacked, individuals could be coerced into providing their iris scans, compromising their personal data.

Buterin acknowledges that there is no perfect solution to address these issues. He mentions three different approaches to proof of personhood – social-graph-based, general-hardware biometric, and specialised-hardware biometric solutions, with each having its strengths and weaknesses. Worldcoin’s specialised hardware system does offer privacy advantages but also introduces centralisation concerns.

Worldcoin’s WLD token experienced a significant price spike of over 20% on major crypto exchanges following the mainnet launch. Despite this, Buterin remains cautious about the potential risks associated with Worldcoin’s PoP system.

In conclusion, while Worldcoin’s PoP system promises a unique approach to user authentication, it is not without challenges. Vitalik Buterin’s concerns over privacy, accessibility, centralisation, and security highlight the need for careful consideration and scrutiny when implementing such technologies.

As the crypto space evolves, it is crucial for developers and projects to address these concerns to build systems that prioritise user privacy and security while maintaining decentralisation and accessibility. The future success of projects like Worldcoin may hinge on their ability to navigate these complexities and find effective solutions.

About the author

Anjali Kochhar covers cryptocurrency stories in India as well as globally. Having been in the field of media and journalism for over three years now, she has developed a sharp news sense and works hard to present information that goes beyond the obvious. She is an avid reader and loves writing on a wide range of subjects.

Translate Now