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Worldcoin Maintains Legal Operations Worldwide, Despite Spain Ban

Hassan Shittu
Last updated: | 3 min read
Worldcoin Maintains Legal Operations Worldwide, Despite Spanish Ban

Amid increasing legal uncertainty in Spain, the global digital identity and cryptocurrency project, Worldcoin, issued new statements regarding its operations and compliance efforts on March 18.

Worldcoin, a “globally inclusive identity and financial network” founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, said it is “lawfully in all of the locations in which it is available” and designed to comply with related laws fully.

Worldcoin Highlights Commitment to Compliance and Data Protection

In a blog post titled “Essential facts about Worldcoin,” the project provided fundamental insights into its operations, rules, and adherence to regulations.

Worldcoin emphasized its commitment to operating lawfully in all jurisdictions where it is available and assured it is compliant with relevant laws and regulations governing data collection and transfer. 

The project highlighted its adherence to major global data protection frameworks, such as Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Argentina’s Personal Data Protection Act, as detailed in a previous post from January.

Notably, Worldcoin reiterated its policy of not allowing minors to join the platform, requiring users to confirm their age over 18 through the World App before verifying at an Orb. In the post, Worldcoin said it uses “mystery shoppers” to prevent minors from participating in the verification process.

The Worldcoin Foundation and its contributor, Tools for Humanity, affirmed that they have never sold, do not sell, and will never sell any personal data, including biometric data.

The project emphasized the self-custodial nature of World ID and World App, ensuring that only the owner possesses personal data such as name, email address, and phone number. Additionally, the project highlighted the advanced security features embedded in the Orb hardware to safeguard data from unauthorized access.

World ID verification relies on iris biometrics, not retina scanning, to authenticate users, the company noted. According to the company, i


ris images are processed locally on the orb device and are promptly deleted afterward, ensuring privacy and security.

The Worldcoin project was officially launched on July 24, 2023, after three years of development. The project was co-founded by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the firm behind the popular artificial intelligence (AI)-based chatbot ChatGPT.

Worldcoin’s mission builds on expectations that it will become too difficult to differentiate between humans and online bots as AI technology grows. To differentiate humans from AI, the startup created a digital ID system based on proof of personhood. The digital ID is generated by scanning an individual’s iris and giving them a World ID.

Worldcoin Faces Regulatory Scrutiny in Spain


The blog post was issued amidst ongoing uncertainty surrounding Worldcoin’s operations in Spain. On March 6, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) issued a temporary order prohibiting Worldcoin from data collection in the country for three months.

The AEPD intends to use this period to investigate complaints that users in Spain aren’t able to withdraw consent and that Worldcoin has allegedly collected data from minors.

Despite Worldcoin’s efforts, a local court rejected its injunction against the data regulator. Spain isn’t the first country where Worldcoin has faced pressure from regulators. In January 2024, Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) announced an investigation into the company’s local operations, citing “serious risks to personal data privacy.” 

The eye-scanning project has also encountered regulatory challenges with a ban in Kenya in August 2023, where the government suspended all local activities associated with the platform, including biometric identification. However, Worldcoin has since expressed intentions to collaborate with the Kenyan government to resume operations in 2024.

The controversy surrounding Worldcoin stems from its use of biometric scanning devices called “orbs.” Its users sign up for the service by downloading an app. They are then directed to the nearest facility containing an orb, where they must submit to have their eyes scanned. 

Once verified, user identities are tied to their unique biometric data, which can be verified independently using Worldcoin’s services. Those who sign up for the service and activate their accounts in the World App application are paid using Worldcoin’s WLD token.