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Portugal suspends Sam Altman’s Worldcoin over data privacy fears

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Portugal’s data authority announced Tuesday the temporary suspension of cryptocurrency project Worldcoin, citing concerns over data protection for minors in the iris-scanning platform set up by OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman.

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Worldcoin began operating last year and provides users with a private digital identity a “World ID” after they get their eye’s unique iris pattern scanned.

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The project, according to its founders, aims to solve one of the main challenges facing the crypto industry which largely relies on pseudonyms to operate, leaving it vulnerable to spam bots and scams.

Portugal’s National Data Protection Commission justified its decision, stating it was “safeguarding the fundamental right to data protection, in particular of minors,” it said in a press release.

The CNPD said it had received dozens of complaints from parents about Worldcoin collecting data from their children without their consent.

The suspension would be for three months in order for it to “conclude its investigation and take a final decision,” the CNPD added.

According to local press reports, the CNPD said that more than 300,000 people in Portugal had already provided their biometric data in exchange for payment in Worldcoin cryptocurrency.

It comes just three weeks after Spain’s data protection agency, AEPD, ordered the company to suspend its activities after receiving several complaints over the collection of data from minors and the fact that withdrawing consent is not allowed.

Due to Worldcoin being located in Germany, the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision is investigating the case for the entire European Union.

Although, this has not stopped countries like Spain and Portugal from taking emergency measures.

Michael Will, the President of the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision, told AFP the body had “already opened an investigation into the pilot project in spring 2023, extended since July 2023 to live operations.”

“Our current examination phase, which will be completed in the next few weeks, focuses on the fundamental questions of data processing,” he said.

Will added there had been no complaints about Worldcoin in Germany so far.

Worldcoin has raised alarm bells of regulators around the world, who are concerned about the collection, storage and use of personal data.

Kenya in August suspended the project after thousands of people had already participated.

Worldcoin has said the biometric data it collects is either deleted or stored in encrypted form.

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This article was generated from an automated news agency feed without modifications to text.

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