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Hong Kong Privacy Commission Cracks Down on Worldcoin

3 mins
Updated by Harsh Notariya
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In Brief

  • Hong Kong's PCPD finds Worldcoin's data practices violate privacy laws, demands cessation of iris and facial scans.
  • Investigation revealed Worldcoin's retention of personal data for AI training as excessive and unnecessary.
  • Global scrutiny grows as countries like Portugal halt Worldcoin's operations over privacy concerns.
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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD), Hong Kong, has reportedly completed its investigation into Worldcoin.

The investigation found significant violations of the Personal data (privacy) regulations.

Hong Kong Has Been Probing Worldcoin Since December 2023

According to Hong Kong-based media outlet RTHK, Privacy Commissioner Ada Chung Lai-ling issued an enforcement notice against Worldcoin. The notice demands the immediate cessation of iris and facial image collection using scanning devices.

The investigation revealed that Worldcoin’s practices in Hong Kong were excessive and unnecessary. Specifically, the retention of personal data for up to ten years to train AI models for identity verification was deemed excessive. Additionally, the collection, retention, transparency, access, and correction of personal data were all found to be in breach of the ordinance.

Worldcoin reportedly failed to adequately inform participants about the purpose of data collection and their rights to access and correct personal data was a key issue. Moreover, the project faced criticism for its lack of Chinese versions of privacy statements and consent forms.

Read more: What Is Worldcoin? A Guide to the Iris-Scanning Crypto Project

The PCPD noted that staff did not explain or confirm participants’ understanding of these documents. Furthermore, they did not inform them of the risks associated with disclosing biometric data.

From December 2023 to January 2024, the PCPD conducted ten undercover operations at six Worldcoin locations in Hong Kong. Following a court-authorized entry into operation sites, the investigation concluded that 8,302 people had undergone facial and iris scanning for identity verification. These participants submitted to iris scanning to verify their human identity, creating an iris code for registered identity verification.

“With the view to protecting the personal data privacy of members of the public, although we have not received any complaints about the project, the office has proactively commenced an investigation against Worldcoin in accordance with established procedures,” Lo Dik-fan, a senior personal data officer, said.

In an interview with BeInCrypto, the Worldcoin Foundation expressed disappointment in the Hong Kong authorities’ decision.

“The Worldcoin Foundation continues to raise the privacy bar through data minimization, user control over data and advanced technology such as personal custody, iris code deletion, and secure multi-party computation. Unfortunately, the authorities in Hong Kong overlooked these aspects in their evaluation of the humanness verification process,” Worldcoin Foundation told BeInCrypto.

Despite these developments, there has been no significant impact on Worldcoin’s (WLD) price. As of writing, WLD is trading at 5.07, down by 1.59% in the past 24 hours.

Worldcoin Price Performance
Worldcoin Price Performance. Source: BeInCrypto

The PCPD’s findings are part of broader regulatory challenges Worldcoin faces globally. For example, in Buenos Aires, authorities highlighted discrepancies between Worldcoin’s data handling practices and local regulations.

Further scrutiny revealed that Worldcoin might have collected data from minors and stored biometric data from Argentine users in Brazil. This situation raises questions about privacy and data sovereignty. If proven, Worldcoin could face a fine of up to 1 billion Argentine pesos ($1.2 million).

In March, Portugal’s data protection authority – CNPD temporarily halted Worldcoin’s data collection, citing risks to citizen data protection. This suspension, affecting over 300,000 Portuguese citizens, followed numerous complaints about unauthorized data collection, particularly from minors.

Read more: How to Buy Worldcoin (WLD) and Everything You Need to Know

Other countries, including Spain, have also restricted Worldcoin’s operations due to similar concerns about the safety and ethical implications of biometric data collection.

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In adherence to the Trust Project guidelines, BeInCrypto is committed to unbiased, transparent reporting. This news article aims to provide accurate, timely information. However, readers are advised to verify facts independently and consult with a professional before making any decisions based on this content. Please note that our Terms and ConditionsPrivacy Policy, and Disclaimers have been updated.

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Harsh Notariya
Harsh Notariya is a journalist and crypto expert that excels in delivering the latest Web3 and Crypto News. Previously, as a Growth Marketer at Sporty and a Community Consultant at Totality Corp, he significantly boosted community engagement and followers. Harsh also crafted engaging content for top crypto influencer Shivam Chhuneja, blending meme references for an educational yet fun experience. His versatile skills make him a notable figure in crypto journalism.
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