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Germany’s Data Watchdog Investigates Worldcoin’s Biometric Data Collection

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision started investigating Worldcoin as concerns about processing biometric data arose.
  • Worldcoin claims to be privacy-preserving and encrypts personal data, but its extensive biometric data collection has drawn scrutiny in EU.
  • France and the UK's data regulators are also expressing concerns about Worldcoin's data collection practices.
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The Worldcoin project, launched by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has now come under the scrutiny of Germany’s data watchdog. Reuters reported that the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision is investigating the German subsidiary of the controversial initiative.

The report notes that the probe began in November 2022 and concerns the extensive processing of sensitive biometric data.

Worldcoin Project Remains a Controversial Initiative

Worldcoin scans the iris of users to provide a digital ID and cryptocurrency. According to the website, the project has garnered 2.1 million sign-ups worldwide thus far.

Michael Will, the president of the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision, expressed apprehension regarding the large-scale processing of sensitive data. Will told Reuters that such processing could pose significant risks, particularly when dealing with highly-sensitive biometric data.

The official said,

“These technologies are at first sight neither established nor well analysed for the specific core purpose of the processing in the field of transferring financial information.”

Contrarily, Worldcoin’s website claims that it preserves privacy and encrypts personal data. While the Cayman Islands registers the global initiative, the EU’s data protection rules govern its European presence.

Check out BeInCrypto’s guide on privacy in web3 and how to safeguard it better: On-Chain and Off-Chain Privacy in Web3: Differences Explained 

EU Data Rules Create Strict Framework

Recently, Binance was forced to stop supporting privacy coins after adopting the Market in Crypto Assets (MiCA) rule in the region. Significantly, the MiCA-imposed “travel rule” puts companies at risk if they facilitate several types of crypto trades in the EU legislation.

Therefore, authorities are currently investigating the legitimacy and repercussions of collecting such vast amounts of biometric data.

The controversy surrounding Worldcoin is not confined to Germany. Both France and the UK’s data regulators have expressed concern about the project’s data collection practices. France’s privacy watchdog, CNIL, stated that the legality of Worldcoin’s data collection “seems questionable.”

Similarly, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office announced it would further investigate the project.

As the investigations proceed, Worldcoin may have implications for the project itself and for more general discussions about using biometric data and privacy in the digital age.

WLD USD trading chart. Source. BeInCrypto
WLD USD trading chart. Source. BeInCrypto

The WLD token trades close to $2.30 at press time after recording a daily gain of over 3%.

Top crypto projects in the US | June 2024



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Shraddha Sharma
Shraddha is an India-based journalist who worked in business and financial news before diving into the crypto space. As an investment enthusiast, she has also has a keen interest in understanding crypto from a personal finance standpoint.