Worldcoin Operations Violate Privacy and Should Cease, Hong Kong Regulator Says

Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data personnel visited 10 of the project's locations in December and January.

AccessTimeIconMay 22, 2024 at 2:33 p.m. UTC
Updated May 23, 2024 at 8:08 a.m. UTC
  • Worldcoin violated Hong Kong's data-protection principles, the territory's privacy commissioner said.
  • The regulator has been investigating Worldcoin since December and said it wants the company to cease operations.

Worldcoin's iris scanning and identification operations contravene Hong Kong's data protection principles, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) said Wednesday.

"The Privacy Commissioner has served an enforcement notice on Worldcoin Foundation, directing it to cease all operations of the Worldcoin project in Hong Kong in scanning and collecting iris and face images of members of the public using iris scanning devices," PCPD said in its statement.

Worldcoin's token WLD has dropped 1.2% over 24 hours to $5.01, according to CoinGecko data.

The commission, an independent statutory body, started an investigation into into the iris biometric cryptocurrency project in December following privacy concerns. It carried out 10 visits between December 2023 to January 2024 across six premises that were involved in the operation of the project.

"Worldcoin confirmed that there were 8,302 individuals with their faces and irises scanned for verification during its operation in Hong Kong," the statement said.

The project, which has come under scrutiny from legislators across the world, has also been suspended in Kenya owing to privacy concerns.

“Worldcoin Foundation is disappointed by the views recently released by the regulatory authorities in Hong Kong," a spokesperson said in a statement. "Worldcoin operates lawfully and is designed to be fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing data collection and use, including the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance of Hong Kong, among many other similar statutes across other markets."

UPDATE (May 23, 08:08 UTC): Adds comment from Worldcoin Foundation to the last paragraph.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.