Spanish court upholds temporary ban on Worldcoin's data collection activities

The court emphasized the priority of personal data protection over commercial interests

Spanish court upholds temporary ban on Worldcoin's data collection activities

The National Court of Spain has affirmed a decision to temporarily halt the collection and processing of personal data by Tools for Humanity Corporation GMBH (FTH), the company behind the cryptocurrency project Worldcoin.

The recent ruling supported the Spanish Data Protection Agency's (AEPD) initial action, emphasizing the priority of personal data protection over the company's commercial interests. FTH had contested the AEPD's directive, arguing that it would suffer irreparable harm in Spain and globally, and claimed that the AEPD lacked jurisdiction since the company is based in Bavaria. However, the court disagreed, finding the AEPD's authority in this matter and indicating that any potential damages to FTH could be compensated if the final verdict favoured them.

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency initiative based on iris biometrics, designed to verify individuals' identities on the internet using World ID, generated through scanning their irises. Additionally, participants who register can receive cryptocurrency as an incentive.  

The dispute arose following numerous complaints about Worldcoin's data collection practices, particularly handling minors' data without adequate consent. The AEPD highlighted instances where consent was either uninformed due to insufficient information or irrevocable, violating the European Union's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Under article 9 of the GDPR, biometric data processing requires enhanced protection due to its sensitive nature, which carries a significant risk to individuals' rights.

Since its launch in 2023, Worldcoin has registered over 4 million users across 120 countries but has faced significant regulatory hurdles, especially concerning privacy and data protection. Several countries, including Kenya, have temporarily suspended their operations due to these issues.

While Worldcoin has not yet responded to the latest court ruling, it has previously criticized the AEPD's decision as bypassing EU law and propagating "inaccurate and misleading claims" about its operations. The company asserted that its World ID technology is "the most privacy-preserving and safest solution for asserting humanness in the age of AI."

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