Spain Bans Worldcoin for Three Months Due to Privacy Concerns

Mar. 7, 2024
Spain Bans Worldcoin for Three Months Due to Privacy Concerns

Spain has become the first European country to act against Sam Altman’s Worldcoin (WLD), the controversial eyeball-scanning blockchain crypto project that scans users’ irises in exchange for free WLD tokens and digital ID. On March 6, Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), Spain’s data protection body, ordered Worldcoin to halt personal data collection and processing and cease using already gathered data within Spain for the next three months. 

AEPD has begun investigating Worldcoin over complaints of privacy concerns. The Spanish regulator emphasized that the processing of biometric data, which merits special protection under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), poses significant risks to individuals’ rights.

The regulator said:

“The AEPD has received several complaints against this company about insufficient information, the collection of data from minors and the fact that consent cannot be withdrawn, among other infringements.” 

In response to the temporary ban, the company stated in a blog post that it had been engaged with the Bavarian Data Protection Authority (BayLDA), which has been leading supervisory efforts for GDPR compliance for over a year. Jannick Preiwisch, the data protection officer of the Worldcoin Foundation, said it’s unfortunate that AEPD is “circumventing established procedures under GDPR with their actions.” Their actions only affect Spain, not the whole EU, he added.  Moreover, the Worldcoin team’s efforts to talk with the AEPD had “gone unanswered for months.”

Worldcoin’s WLD token fell to a low of $6.08 on Wednesday but bounced back to $7.35 on Thursday, according to CoinMarketCap. The token was up 9% over the past 24 hours. Over the past month, the price of WLD climbed by nearly 200% to reach a new all-time high of $9.35.

Worldcoin Draws Global Regulatory Probes

Worldcoin is under investigation in various jurisdictions due to its iris scanning process. Earlier this week, South Korea began investigating Worldcoin following complaints about the project. 

In January, the Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) conducted investigations at six Worldcoin premises, citing concerns regarding risks to personal data privacy. Following the launch of Worldcoin’s token last July, the UK’s data protection regulator said it would investigate the project. 

Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior suspended the crypto project from operating in the country in August 2023. Moreover, the project has halted its Orb-verification service in France, Brazil, and India.

Despite these controversies, over 4 million people worldwide have enrolled for iris scanning through its orb devices. Addressing the concerns, the firm previously said it either deletes biometric data or keeps it safe by encrypting it.

Syed Ali Haider

Researcher & Editor
Ali Haider is a Blockchain enthusiast and writer passionate about enhancing the acceptance, adoption, and integration of Blockchain technology worldwide. He has also advocated for digital freedom and cybersecurity for many years.