French Privacy Watchdog Raises Concerns Over Worldcoin’s Data Collection; Collaborating with Germany for Investigation

Source: Shutterstock

European regulators, including the French National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL) and the Bavarian state authority in Germany, are raising legal concerns about Worldcoin’s data collection methods.

In an email on Friday, July 28, CNIL said: “The legality of this collection seems questionable, as do the conditions for storing biometric data.”

Worldcoin, co-founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, launched on June 24 with an ambitious plan to scan the irises of millions of people in 20 countries, granting them a “digital passport” called “World ID” and rewarding them with 25 WLD, the project’s native token. 

The aim is to provide individuals with a means to verify their humanity and distinguish themselves from robots as artificial intelligence becomes more influential.

However, concerns surrounding data privacy, security, and data collection have emerged, leading to investigations by CNIL, the French privacy watchdog. 

CNIL is also collaborating with the Bavarian state authority in Germany to address these issues associated with Worldcoin.

Worldcoin Faces Challenges Despite Attracting 2.1 Million Sign-Ups During Trial Period

Worldcoin’s website indicates they have amassed 2.1 million sign-ups during their two-year trial period. Since the official launch, the company proudly boasts on Twitter that a unique human verifies their World ID every 7.6 seconds, leading to daily records. 

They have shared photos of their orbs in cities like Seoul, Mexico City, and Paris since the launch on July 24.

Although a video shared by Co-founder Sam Altman showed people in Japan lining up to provide their iris scans in exchange for “free” Worldcoin (WLD) tokens, the company finds it hard attracting new sign-ups. 

Only about 200 people signed up on the first day at each of the three designated locations in Hong Kong, totaling 600.

While Altman claims strong consumer interest and “crazy lines around the world,” the numbers suggest a slow path to achieving mass adoption. 

However, Worldcoin has announced plans to significantly increase the number of orbs in significant cities as the year progresses, aiming to have five times more sign-up capacity.

Worldcoin’s Controversial Project Sparks Mixed Reactions and Draws Attention from Regulators

Worldcoin’s project has sparked mixed reactions within the crypto community. While some users have expressed concerns about its centralization, others view the proof-of-personhood as a necessary measure to address the growing presence of AI. 

The British Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed that it is investigating the project, as organizations must conduct a Data Protection Impact Assessment for collecting “high-risk” information.

Even prominent figures in the crypto space, like Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, have raised alarms. 

Buterin warned that Worldcoin has “major issues,” particularly regarding the potential accidental exposure of sensitive personal information such as sex, ethnicity, and possibly medical conditions through iris scans.

In response to privacy concerns, Worldcoin stated its compliance with data protection laws, including the GDPR and the UK Data Protection Act. 

The company committed to cooperating with governing bodies regarding privacy and data protection inquiries. Worldcoin further mentioned conducting a comprehensive Data Protection Impact Assessment in the UK with the assistance of a top-tier law firm. 

Additionally, the company assured that it would promptly address individual requests for deleting personal data.