Portugal shuts down Worldcoin biometric data collection

Lisbon: Portugal has reportedly put the brakes on Worldcoin’s biometric data collection efforts.

As reported Tuesday (March 26), the country’s data regulator has ordered Worldcoin to halt its data collection for 90 days. The move marks the latest in a series of regulatory setbacks for the company, founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

Worldcoin offers a digital ID and free cryptocurrency to users who agree to have their faces scanned by one of its “orb” machines. The company’s website says that more than 4.5 million people worldwide have already signed up.

More than 300,000 of those people are from Portugal, the report said, leading the CNPD, the country’s data watchdog, to issue the shutdown.

The regulator said it had gotten dozens of complaints in the past month about unwarranted collection of data from minors, “deficiencies in the information provided to the data subjects” and “the impossibility of erasing the data or withdrawing consent.”
In a statement provided to PYMNTS, Worldcoin Data Protection Officer Jannick Preiwisch said the company complies with all laws dealing with biometric data collection and would be happy to address the regulator’s concerns.

“The report from CNPD is the first time we are hearing from them regarding many of these matters, including reports of underage sign-ups in Portugal, for which we have zero tolerance for and are working to address in all instances, even if a matter of a few reports,” he said.

Portugal’s move comes weeks after its neighbor Spain issued a similar order, while also blocking the data the project has already collected.

The Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) said in a news release that it had “received several complaints against this company about insufficient information, the collection of data from minors and the fact that consent cannot be withdrawn, among other infringements.”
Worldcoin’s work has received pushback in other countries as well. Kenya last August suspended Worldcoin’s operations during a government investigation, while the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) told PYMNTS it would be “making further inquiries” into the company soon after its debut last year.

But despite apprehensions about these and other biometric tools, research by PYMNTS Intelligence has found that a significant share of U.S. consumers continue to embrace biometric authentication tools, with more than 50% of consumers that make online purchases using biometric authentication to verify transactions.

These authentication methods include facial recognition and fingerprint scans, used by a respective 28% and 49% of consumers. In addition, close to 60% of facial recognition users employ this method more than once weekly.