Portugal Temporarily Bans Worldcoin’s Biometric Data Collection for 90 Days

Hassan Shittu
Last updated: | 2 min read
Close-up digital illustration of a human eye with futuristic biometric scanning graphics, symbolizing Worldcoin's biometric data collection, amidst scrutiny by CNPD in Portugal.
Portugal CNPD Temporarily Bans Worldcoin's Biometric Data Collection for 90 Days.

The National Data Protection Commission (CNPD) of Portugal took decisive action on March 26 to safeguard personal data protection, particularly for minors, by temporarily banning Worldcoin.

In response to concerns raised by numerous complaints, the CNPD issued a temporary 90-day restriction on Worldcoin’s biometric data collection through its Orb devices within Portugal on Tuesday.

CNPD Issues Urgent Provisional Measure Due to Worldcoin’s Biometric Data Collection Concerns

This provisional measure stems from concerns regarding the company collecting biometric data, including iris, eye, and facial scans, without proper consent or authorization.

Additionally, the CNPD noted deficiencies in the information provided to data subjects and potential data deletion or revocation issues.

The decision was further prompted by media reports indicating that over 300,000 individuals in Portugal had already provided their biometric data.

The rapid proliferation of collection points, particularly in commercial areas, raised concerns about the influx of participants. According to the GDPR, biometric data is classified as a special category of data that requires enhanced protection due to its inherent risks.

Minors, being particularly vulnerable, are entitled to special protection under European and national laws.

The CNPD’s ongoing investigation will analyze incoming reports and take further steps as necessary to ensure compliance with data protection regulations and mitigate potential harm.

Worldcoin Addresses Legal Uncertainties Regarding Its Digital Identity Project

Worldcoin, a global digital identity and cryptocurrency project founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has recently addressed legal uncertainties surrounding its operations, particularly in Spain.

The situation in Spain escalated when the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) issued a temporary order on March 6, prohibiting Worldcoin from collecting data in the country for three months.

The AEPD cited concerns related to users’ inability to withdraw consent and allegations of data collection from minors. Despite Worldcoin’s compliance efforts, a local court rejected its injunction against the data regulator.

This development in Spain is separate, as Worldcoin has also faced regulatory scrutiny in other jurisdictions. In January 2024, Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) investigated Worldcoin’s operations due to concerns about personal data privacy risks.

Additionally, Worldcoin’s eye-scanning project encountered regulatory challenges in Kenya, leading to a government ban on local activities associated with the platform, including biometric identification, in August 2023.

Worldcoin has said it is willing to collaborate with the Kenyan government to resume operations in 2024, however.

In a statement released on March 18, Worldcoin assured stakeholders that it operates lawfully in all locations where it is available and is designed to comply with relevant laws fully.