Worldcoin under investigation in Hong Kong over data privacy concerns

Quick Take

  • On Wednesday, Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog conducted investigations at six Worldcoin premises — citing concerns regarding risks to personal data privacy.

Worldcoin's Hong Kong offices were entered by the jurisdiction's privacy watchdog over suspicions it has broken the law while scanning people's irises in return for WLD +29.40% tokens.

Hong Kong's Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data said Worldcoin is suspected of mishandling the biometric data it has obtained. 

"The PCPD entered six premises of the Worldcoin project located at Yau Ma Tei, Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, Cyperport, Central and Causeway Bay to carry out investigations. It is concerned that the operation of Worldcoin in Hong Kong involves serious risks to personal data privacy," the PCPD said in a statement.

PCPD to commence investigation

The PCPD added that it believes the collection and processing of sensitive personal data by Worldcoin may be in contravention of the requirements of Hong Kong's Personal Data Privacy Ordinance.

The privacy watchdog then said it has now commenced an investigation against Worldcoin "with a view to protecting the personal data privacy of members of the public."

“Members of the public should carefully protect their sensitive personal data and avoid participating in any activities that collect sensitive personal data, such as iris scanning, arbitrarily," Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Ada Chung Lai-ling said.

PCPD releases statement

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In a statement released on Wednesday, the PCPD advised that Hong Kong's citizens should carefully consider several key issues before providing their biometric data. These include assessing the legitimacy of collecting such data, understanding the scope and purpose of the data collection, determining the intended use of the data and identifying the classes of persons or organizations to whom the data will be disclosed or transferred.
 
Additionally, the PCPD advised individuals to be mindful of the retention period for the biometric data and inquire about the safety precautions implemented to protect this sensitive information.
 
The Block has contacted Worldcoin for a comment regarding the developments, but the company has yet to reply.

The Worldcoin project is an identity-focused initiative that uses its Orb devices to scan people's irises in order to "verify their humanness." The project also gives out WLD tokens as an incentive for people to sign up to the protocol. WLD has decreased by over 10% in the past 24 hours and was changing hands for $2.36 at 7:40 a.m. ET, according to The Block data.

WLD/USD price chart. Image: The Block.


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About Author

Brian McGleenon is a UK-based markets reporter for The Block. He has worked as a financial journalist and producer for multiple news outlets over the years, such as Fuji Television, The Independent, Yahoo Finance, The Evening Standard, and The Daily Express. Brian is also a screenwriter and producer with one feature film produced and one in development with Northern Ireland Screen. Apart from web3 and cryptocurrency developments, he is also interested in geopolitics, environmental issues, artificial intelligence, and longevity research. Get in touch via email [email protected].

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