Hong Kong regulator directs Worldcoin to cease operations citing privacy concerns

By Thomson Reuters May 22, 2024 | 11:38 AM

(Reuters) – A Hong Kong regulator on Wednesday served an enforcement notice to Worldcoin Foundation directing it to cease all operations of the cryptocurrency project in the country, citing risk to privacy and personal data.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) added that Worldcoin should stop scanning and collecting iris and face images of the public using its devices. It also dubbed the data collection as “unnecessary and excessive.”

Worldcoin did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

More than 5 million people in over 160 countries have signed up to have their irises scanned by Worldcoin’s “orb” devices, according to its website. But the project has drawn criticism over the collection, storage and use of personal data.

Worldcoin, co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, says its aim is to create a global identity and financial network akin to India’s Aadhaar biometric ID system, suggesting on its website a variety of ambitious use cases, including distinguishing people from artificial intelligence bots.

Regulators around the world, particularly in European countries, have expressed concern that the database could be misused.

(Reporting by Manya Saini in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)