The offices of the Worldcoin project, a biometric scanning and wallet initiative, have been visited by authorities in Hong Kong amidst a broad privacy investigation. The authorities, complying with a court warrant, advised the general audience to protect their sensitive data carefully and avoid casually providing their biometric information to third parties.
Worldcoin Under Investigation by Hong Kong Authorities
Worldcoin is facing increased scrutiny on its operations in Hong Kong. Local sources reported that on January 31, privacy authorities visited six Worldcoin offices in the city, located in Yau Ma Tei, Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, Cyberport, Central, and Causeway Bay, to conduct investigations on the project operations.
The authorities, part of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, had a court warrant to enter these premises and seize documents related to the usage of the data collected by Worldcoin. To receive a bonus of 25 WLD, Worldcoin’s token, users have to scan their eyes using an optical device called the Orb, which collects the data and proves the “personhood” of each verified user.
The collection of sensitive and personal data prompted this investigation, as the Office of the Privacy Commissioner believes it might violate some provisions of the city’s privacy ordinance.
In its FAQ page, Worldcoin stresses that, by default, the Orb “promptly deletes iris images after the creation of the iris code,” which is a digital representation of the iris of each user. Nonetheless, users can opt-in to store their biometric data in Worldcoin’s distributed servers.
Chung Liling, Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data, stated that the general public should be more vigilant about its biometric data and should also avoid giving it casually to third parties.
This is not the first nation where Worldcoin has faced opposition due to its intrusive data collection practices, as it has also been investigated in Argentina, France, and Kenya, where authorities attempted to detain its representatives.
Worldcoin has over 3.2 million signups, with over 180,000 accounts created in the last seven days.
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