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Worldcoin banned in Portugal over privacy concerns

Worldcoin banned in Portugal over privacy concerns

Worldcoin, the crypto biometric project fronted by OpenAI boss Sam Altman, has been temporarily banned in Portugal over data privacy concerns.

The move is a further blow for the controversial initiative which has already been hit with multiple bans around the world. 

Worldcoin was launched in 2023 by Altman with the mission of becoming a 'World ID' for the crypto market.

The scheme uses iris patterns to provide users with a private digital identity. According to Altman, this solves one of the biggest probloems in crypto - the prevalence of pseudonyms and the vulnerability to spam bots and scams, as well as increaisngly convincing deepfakes created by AI.

However, the project has been hindered by complaints over privacy violations. More specifically, parents have complained about Worldcoin collecting data from their children without consent. 

There are also wider concerns about how the data is captured, stored and managed.

Portugal's National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) has issued a three-month temporary ban while it carries out an investigation, after which it will take a final decision . 

The agency said its actions were based on "safeguarding the fundamental right to data protection, in particular of minors". 

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

The Portugal ban comes three weeks after Spain's data protection authority banned Worldcoin.

The company is based in Germany and is also under investigation there from the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision. This investigaiton is set to be completed in a matter of weeks and the decision could have profound ramifications for Worldcoin's ability to operate within the EU.

In a statement, Jannick Preiwisch, data protection officer at the Worldcoin Foundation, says: “Worldcoin is fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing the collection and transfer of biometric data, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation.

The Worldcoin Foundation has the utmost respect for the role and responsibilities of data protection authorities, in the CNPD in Portugal. Since offering humanness verification services in Portugal, we have been completely transparent and happy to address CNPD’s questions or concerns.

"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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