Spain Temporarily Bans Worldcoin Over Data Privacy Concerns

Worldcoin, a digital ID cryptocurrency venture led by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, has faced regulatory hurdles in Spain as the country’s data protection authority, AEPD, issues a temporary ban on its operations. The ban, effective for up to three months, follows complaints about alleged privacy violations related to the collection and processing of personal data.

AEPD’s order demands Worldcoin, developed by Tools for Humanity, to cease collecting and processing personal information in Spain, citing concerns about the inability to withdraw consent, data collection from minors, and insufficient information provided to users. The regulator emphasized the need to protect individuals’ rights, especially regarding the processing of biometric data, which carries inherent risks, including potential data transfers to third parties.

Jannick Preiwisch, Worldcoin’s Data Protection Officer, criticized AEPD’s actions, accusing the agency of circumventing EU law and spreading inaccurate claims about the technology. However, AEPD maintains that its measures are necessary to safeguard individuals’ rights and prevent potential harm.

The ban in Spain adds to the growing list of regulatory challenges facing Worldcoin globally. European countries, including Portugal, France, and Germany, are also scrutinizing the venture’s activities for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In addition, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office is conducting inquiries, and Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog has executed search warrants on Worldcoin’s offices.

Worldcoin’s unique approach to identity verification, which involves scanning users’ irises using “orbs,” has sparked controversy over privacy and data protection. Despite claims by Worldcoin of providing a secure and privacy-preserving solution, regulators remain vigilant in ensuring compliance with data protection laws.

The ban in Spain highlights the complexities surrounding the intersection of technology, privacy, and regulation. As Worldcoin navigates these challenges, its interactions with regulatory authorities will shape the future of digital identity and cryptocurrency initiatives globally.