Global: Portugal Temporarily Bans Worldcoin Over Privacy Issues

Portugal Temporarily Bans Worldcoin Over Privacy Issues
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Portugal has imposed a temporary ban on Worldcoin, the crypto biometric project spearheaded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, citing concerns regarding data privacy.

This ban adds to the challenges facing the controversial initiative, which has encountered multiple prohibitions worldwide.

Launched in 2023 by Altman, Worldcoin aims to establish a ‘World ID’ for the crypto market, utilizing iris patterns to provide users with a private digital identity. Altman asserts that this approach addresses a significant issue in crypto, namely the prevalence of pseudonyms and susceptibility to spam bots, scams, and deepfake AI creations.

However, the project has faced criticism over privacy breaches, particularly complaints from parents regarding the collection of data from minors without consent. Moreover, broader concerns have emerged regarding the collection, storage, and management of data.

Portugal’s National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) has imposed a three-month temporary ban while conducting an investigation, after which it will render a final decision. The CNPD’s actions are rooted in “safeguarding the fundamental right to data protection, especially for minors.”

According to the CNPD, over 300,000 users have already provided their biometric data in exchange for payment in Worldcoin’s cryptocurrency.

The ban in Portugal follows a similar move by Spain’s data protection authority three weeks earlier.

Worldcoin, headquartered in Germany, is also under scrutiny from the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision. The outcome of this investigation, expected in a few weeks, could significantly impact Worldcoin’s operations within the EU.

Jannick Preiwisch, data protection officer at the Worldcoin Foundation, emphasized the project’s compliance with relevant laws, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. Preiwisch affirmed the foundation’s willingness to address concerns raised by authorities, including the CNPD, and reiterated their commitment to transparency and data protection.

Preiwisch stated, “The report from CNPD is the first time we are hearing from them regarding many of these matters, including reports of underage sign-ups in Portugal, for which we have zero tolerance for and are working to address in all instances, even if a matter of a few reports.”

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