South Korea Sets Sights on Worldcoin: Investigation Launched Over Potential Violations

March 8, 2024
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South Korea has taken decisive action to uphold digital privacy standards by launching an investigation into Worldcoin, shedding light on potential violations of the Personal Information Protection Act.

Developed by San Francisco and Berlin-based Tools for Humanity, and co-founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, Worldcoin finds itself under scrutiny once again due to its unconventional methods of data collection, particularly its reliance on iris-scanning technology.

This latest probe, initiated by South Korea’s Personal Information Protection Commission on February 29, follows similar investigations conducted by several countries since Worldcoin’s launch in July 2023.

The commission aims to ascertain whether Worldcoin has infringed upon the Personal Information Protection Act in its data collection and processing practices, prompted by “complaints regarding the collection and processing of personal information.”

According to a press release translated using Google Translate, the agency will scrutinize “the overall collection and processing of sensitive information and overseas transfer of personal information.” Allegations suggest that Worldcoin and its affiliates collected facial and iris data from ten locations across South Korea. 

Authorities have emphasized their readiness to take appropriate actions under “relevant laws and regulations” if “violations are confirmed.”

Vlada Labzeyeva, the Chief of Staff at Tools for Humanity, extended an invitation to regulators worldwide to engage with and learn more about Worldcoin and its associated services.

“Worldcoin welcomes regulators to inquire and seek information or clarifications about programs such as Worldcoin and related proof of humanness verification services, available to the people in their communities, cities, countries or regions. The Worldcoin Foundation is committed to full compliance with all relevant laws and regulations governing the processing of personal data in the markets where Worldcoin operates,” the executive said in a statement sent to The Daily Shib.

This isn’t the first time Worldcoin has come under regulatory scrutiny. The project has previously faced investigations from French authorities, Kenya, the United Kingdom, and Germany over its biometric information management practices. 

In December 2023, Worldcoin temporarily suspended its orb verification service in India, Brazil, and France.

In a recent development, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong staged raids on multiple locations used for identity verification by iris biometrics firm Worldcoin, objecting to its scheme to offer crypto tokens to anyone willing to have their irises scanned. The raids were launched in Worldcoin offices in Yau Ma Tei, Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, Cyberport, Central and Causeway Bay.

Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner Chung Liling warned the public about the risks associated with participating in iris scanning activities and urged caution.

Despite these regulatory challenges, Worldcoin’s vision of establishing a universal basic income system through regular cryptocurrency grants remains steadfast. Using the “Orb” device to scan individuals’ eyes, the project aims to ensure equitable distribution of grants. 

Worldcoin’s adoption has surged, boasting nearly 4 million users and recording over 450,000 average daily wallet transactions within less than a year since its launch, amid regulatory scrutiny from various government agencies and regulators across the globe.

The crypto project has registered nearly 4 million users on its platform, less than a year following its launch with 600,000 users registered within the past week. It also recorded more than 450,000 in average daily wallet transactions.

The native token, WLD, which provides utility and governance rights within the Worldcoin protocol, has experienced significant fluctuations in value. 

Trading at $7.28 with a 24-hour trading volume of $453,823,474 as of 10:10 a.m. ET on Friday, WLD reflects both investor interest and market volatility, with a surge of 209.88% in the past 30 days. 

WLD has a market cap of $1,090,897,165 with a circulating supply of 147,742,690 WLD coins and a max. supply of 10,000,000,000 WLD coins, based on the data from CoinMarketCap.

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