Worldcoin Defiant: Services Paused, Legal Challenge Against Spanish Ban Launched

March 11, 2024

In a bold and defiant move against regulatory pushback, Worldcoin, the cutting-edge iris-biometric cryptocurrency project, temporarily suspended its services in Spain. This momentary pause, however, is accompanied by a proactive legal countermeasure, challenging the Spanish government’s suspension of its operations. 

The confrontation was sparked last Wednesday when Spain took a firm stance against Worldcoin’s innovative yet contentious method of gathering personal data through an iris-scanning orb. The AEPD, Spain’s guardian of data privacy, mandated an immediate cessation of Worldcoin’s data collection and the relinquishment of any data already captured, providing a mere 72-hour window for compliance.

Mar España Martí, the AEPD’s director, underscored Spain’s pioneering role in Europe in raising alarms about Worldcoin, particularly its data collection practices concerning minors. “What we have done is raise the alarm in Europe. But this is an issue that affects . . . citizens in all the countries of the European Union,” the director said, adding, “That means there has to be coordinated action.”

Amid the tension, Tools For Humanity, the company spearheading Worldcoin’s operations, initiated legal action against the AEPD. The company argued that the enforced suspension and the directive to delete Spanish users’ data violate the established protocols of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Worldcoin contends that the AEPD lacks the authority to cease its Spanish operations, citing GDPR guidelines that designate the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision (BayLDA) as the competent authority given Worldcoin’s incorporation location.

“Worldcoin is fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing biometric data collection and data transfer, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). As such, we have been in consistent and ongoing dialog with our lead Data Privacy Authority in the EU, BayLDA, for months. We were disappointed that the Spanish regulator circumvented the accepted EU process and rules, which leaves us little recourse but to file suit,” Worldcoin relayed to The Daily Shib, expressing disappointment over the AEPD’s sidestepping of EU procedures. 

This sentiment was mirrored by Jannick Preiwisch, Worldcoin’s Data Protection Officer, who highlighted the company’s diligent engagement with BayLDA and lamented the AEPD’s unilateral actions and dissemination of misleading information about Worldcoin and World ID. “For several months, we’ve been in discussions with BayLDA, reflecting our commitment to adhere to GDPR standards,” the executive said.

However, the data protection officer lamented the recent action taken by the Spanish data protection authority (AEPD), saying, “Unfortunately, the AEPD has decided to bypass the established GDPR procedures with their recent measures, which are confined to Spain and do not extend to the broader EU.”

Furthermore, Preiwisch expressed concern over the AEPD’s global dissemination of “inaccurate and misleading claims about our technology,” despite repeated efforts to clarify the functionalities and intentions behind Worldcoin and World ID. Despite this, the executive is still hopeful and appreciates the forthcoming opportunity to engage with the AEPD more constructively. “We are grateful for the chance to help the AEPD better understand the critical and lawful aspects of our technology.” 

In a recent update, as of early Monday morning ET, has made a notable change to its website, removing “Spain” from the roster of countries where its distinctive iris-scanning technology is offered. 

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