Portugal takes decisive action against Worldcoin to protect minors

Portugal pinpointed on a map
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Portugal’s National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) has temporarily banned Worldcoin, the crypto biometric project fronted by OpenAI boss Sam Altman, over data privacy concerns.

CNPD has suspended Worldcoin from collecting biometric data – data related to the physical, physiological or behavioural characteristics of an individual, such as fingerprints, face scans, voice prints or retina patterns.  

The protection of personal data, especially that of minors, is the primary rationale for the suspension, which ordered Worldcoin to stop processing data within 24 hours and prohibited the firm from doing so for a period of 90 days, until the CNPD completes its investigation and issues a final decision.

Paula Meira Lourenço, President of the CNPD, said: “This order to temporarily limit the collection of biometric data by the Worldcoin Foundation is, at this moment, an indispensable and justified measure to obtain the useful effect of defending the public interest in safeguarding fundamental rights, especially minors.”

This drastic action has been carried out after the CNPD received several reports of the firm collecting data from minors without the authorisation of their parents or legal representatives. 

Additionally, there were also reports about malpractice, stating that it was impossible to delete your data or revoke consent. 

Recently, there has been a lot of news coverage around the firm, with Spain’s Data Protection Agency (AEPD) making moves against the platform earlier this month.

Altman launched Worldcoin in 2023 with the mission to become a ‘World ID’ for the crypto market. So far, the CNPD believes that more than 300,000 people in Portugal have already provided some sort of biometric data to the company in order to receive the cryptocurrency.

In terms of the technology, data collection using the ‘Orb’ device, located in large commercial areas, almost doubled in six months. This comes after a large influx of people, including minors, have looked to join the Worldcoin project and receive tokens, mainly driven from crypto’s recent success.

Currently, the ‘Orb’ has no mechanism for verifying the age of members, a technology that many experts were concerned about when it launched. Daniel Fogg, CEO at IOV Labs, shared his thoughts on the technology with Payment Expert last August.

Looking forward, the CNPD has said that it continues its investigation and continues to receive additional daily information.