Spain’s High Court Snubs TFH Injunction Appeal, Upholds Temporary Ban on Worldcoin

March 12, 2024

In a bold demonstration of regulatory oversight, Spain’s High Court delivered a decisive blow to the iris biometric cryptocurrency project, Worldcoin. Despite the company’s injunction appeal, the court upheld the local regulator’s directive to cease data collection within the country, affirming the previous temporary ban for the project in the country.

Earlier this week, the Madrid-based High Court declined Worldcoin’s request for an injunction against the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) order, emphasizing the paramount importance of safeguarding public interest. Dismissing an appeal by Worldcoin’s parent company Tools For Humanity (TFH), the court underscored concerns regarding the risks associated with biometric data processing, particularly regarding the potential impact on individuals, including minors.

The court’s decision was grounded on doubts surrounding the validity of consent and the level of transparency provided by Worldcoin regarding data processing. Additionally, concerns were raised about the limitations imposed on data subjects’ rights, such as the ability to withdraw consent and request the deletion of personal data.

In its injunction appeal last Wednesday, Tools For Humanity argued that the temporary suspension would cause “irreparable harm” to its business, including economic harm, damage to its reputation and a less likelihood of success for its iris-biometric scanning.

Nevertheless, the court remained unswayed, dismissing what it deemed as “unsubstantiated assertions” put forth by Worldcoin. It emphasized that the suspension imposed by Spain’s privacy watchdog AEPD is temporary, confined solely to Spain, and carries provisions for compensation.

In a recent statement sent to The Daily Shib, Worldcoin asserted its full compliance with all legal frameworks concerning biometric data collection and transfer, including Europe’s stringent General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and asserted its readiness to demonstrate this compliance before the Spanish High Court.

“Worldcoin is fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing biometric data collection and data transfer, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. Since our previous attempts to engage AEPD went unanswered, we look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate this compliance and provide the regulator with accurate and important information regarding this essential and lawful technology in the Spanish High Court,” Worldcoin said in an email.

Worldcoin was temporarily banned last Wednesday by AEPD, following complaints ranging from insufficient information to the collection of data from minors and not allowing the withdrawal of consent.

The watchdog said the processing of biometric data, which has special protection under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, “entails high risks for people’s rights, taking into account their sensitive nature.” It told Worldcoin to stop collecting personal information and stop using data it had already gathered.

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