Hong Kong Investigates Worldcoin Over Data Privacy Concerns

Hong Kong Investigates Worldcoin Over Data Privacy Concerns

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) in Hong Kong has initiated an investigation into Worldcoin, the identity verification project co-founded by Sam Altman of OpenAI fame. The probe was launched amid growing apprehensions regarding the handling of personal data by the project, particularly focusing on its iris-scanning technology used for identity verification.

The investigation saw the PCPD executing warrants and inspecting six Worldcoin-operated premises in Hong Kong. The privacy watchdog is seeking documents and information to understand the project’s data handling practices. The primary concern revolves around the collection and processing of what is deemed “sensitive personal data,” with the PCPD suggesting potential non-compliance with the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.

Worldcoin aims to provide a unique form of identity verification through iris-scanning orbs, which generate a World ID for users. Since its launch in July 2023, over 5 million individuals globally have registered for Worldcoin accounts, highlighting its widespread appeal. However, the project’s innovative approach has not been without its controversies, drawing scrutiny from regulators worldwide due to potential privacy infringements.

The PCPD’s investigation underscores a growing trend of regulatory bodies voicing concerns over the safety and legality of collecting sensitive personal data. The commission stressed that any data collection must serve a lawful purpose directly related to the project’s operations, with a particular emphasis on the sensitive nature of iris information.

As the investigation unfolds, the future operations of Worldcoin in Hong Kong hang in the balance, with potential implications for its global operations. The scrutiny from the PCPD could lead to significant changes in how Worldcoin handles personal data, setting a precedent for how innovative identity verification technologies are regulated worldwide.

    Newsletter | Every weekday

    Smart Central News Weekly Briefing

    Only top industry news of the week in your inbox