France’s Privacy Watchdog Says Legality of Worldcoin’s Biometric Data Collection Process Is Questionable

France’s privacy-focused watchdog CNIL stated on Friday (July 28, 2023) that it is well aware of ChatGPT-founder Sam Altman‘s Worldcoin initiative and that the legality of its biometric data collection process appears to “questionable.”

Worldcoin, which was officially introduced on Monday, requires clients to offer their iris scans in exchange for an all-digital ID and in certain jurisdictions free virtual currency. The project’s official website said it has reportedly signed up 2.1 million consumers, primarily in a pilot over the past couple years.

Worldcoin has launched various sign-up websites in certain areas across the globe, where consumers are able to get their faces scanned by a spherical orb-like structure.

As first reported by Reuters, the UK’s data regulator stated this past week that it plans to carry out enquiries regarding Worldcoin after its official launch.

CNIL, the French regulator, stated in response to a question from Reuters on Worldcoin that the legality of this collection “seems questionable, as do the conditions for storing biometric data.”

The CNIL’s email message sent to Reuters stated that it had launched probes, which determined that the Bavarian State authority in Germany does happen to have jurisdiction over the matter. Moreover, the Bavarian authority has also been carrying out the investigation, with assistance from the CNIL, the watchdog revealed.

Worldcoin was reportedly designed “to protect individual privacy and has built a robust privacy program” and is focused on adhering to applicable regulatory guidelines, the Worldcoin Foundation claimed in an email message.

It’s worth noting that the Worldcoin Foundation is a Cayman Islands-headquartered business entity that claims to be a “steward of the Worldcoin protocol.”

The organization added that the Worldcoin Foundation “complies with all laws and regulations governing the processing of personal data in the markets where Worldcoin is available.”

The initiative is being monitored in the EU by the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision, the Worldcoin Foundation noted.

They also mentioned that the project will “continue to cooperate with governing bodies on requests for more information about its privacy and data protection practices.”


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