Spanish Watchdog AEPD Orders Worldcoin to Halt Data Collection

Spain's data watchdog orders Worldcoin crypto project to immediately cease collecting biometric data like iris scans over privacy violations.

Key Insights

  • Spain orders Worldcoin crypto project to halt personal data collection over privacy breaches
  • Follows complaints around lack of consent for biometric iris scans required to earn tokens
  • Injunction bars ‘high-risk’ processing of sensitive biometric data by Worldcoin in Spain

MADRID (MarketsXplora) – Spain’s data protection agency on Monday ordered Tools for Humanity Corporation to immediately stop collecting and processing personal data in the country as part of its controversial Worldcoin crypto project over privacy concerns.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) issued the injunction against the U.S. company behind Worldcoin after receiving several complaints about alleged irregularities in how biometric details like iris scans were being harvested.

Complainants cited a lack of clear information around data gathering practices, the collection of minors’ data, and the inability to withdraw consent.

Under Spanish law and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the processing of biometric data is considered high-risk given its sensitive nature.

Read also! Worldcoin Loses Legal Bid to Keep Biometric Data Collection in Spain

As such, the AEPD said it was issuing the provisional order to halt the collection and any potential transfer of citizens’ personal information in order to safeguard privacy rights.

“This precautionary measure aims to immediately cease this processing of personal data and prevent possible transfer to third parties, protecting the fundamental right to data protection,” the agency said.

Tools for Humanity requires individuals to scan their irises using proprietary Orb devices in exchange for its Worldcoin crypto token, designed to be a digital identity and potentially a form of universal basic income.

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The firm claims over 2 million sign-ups worldwide since launching the project last year, offering individuals a free Worldcoin token each week to those opting in.

However, the complex process of verifying individuals as “unique” using biometrics, blockchain and AI has drawn scrutiny over transparency and privacy safeguards.

Worldcoin warns on its website that the token’s value is highly unpredictable, to be determined by factors like the number of verified holders and applications developed.

The AEPD said the injunction was based on “exceptional circumstances” where provisional measures were justified to prevent potential privacy violations.

It marks the latest regulatory hurdle for the audacious web3 project which has triggered investigations and bans in several jurisdictions over its eyeball-scanning requirements.

Tools for Humanity rejected the Spanish decision as “without substance” in a statement, arguing Worldcoin has rigorous user privacy and security protocols in place.

Read also! What Could Go Wrong with Worldcoin? Examining the Risks

It said it remained in discussions with the AEPD and would appeal any restriction preventing Spanish citizens from freely participating in its novel system for crypto-based digital identity.

Critics say the individually non-transferrable Worldcoin token aligns poorly with core crypto principles around decentralization and self-sovereignty.

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