Worldcoin Faces Legal Setback in Spain as Court Maintains Suspension of Biometric Data Collection

By Riley Stratton

The Spanish National Court (Audiencia Nacional) has maintained the suspension of Worldcoin’s biometric data collection activities in Spain, following a decision by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) to halt the company’s operations in the country for up to three months. The court’s ruling comes in response to Worldcoin’s appeal against the AEPD’s measure, which was based on reports of the company collecting biometric data from minors and concerns about users’ ability to withdraw consent for the distribution of their biometric information.

In its decision last week, the National Court stated that the AEPD’s actions were justified, given the scale of Worldcoin’s biometric data processing and the lack of clarity surrounding user consent. The court emphasized that safeguarding the general interest of protecting citizens’ personal data rights must take precedence over the company’s economic interests.

Worldcoin, a biometric identification project co-founded by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, had argued that the AEPD had overstepped its authority, citing that under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), such measures should only be taken by data regulators in the jurisdiction where the company is based. However, the National Court declared that the AEPD was competent to adopt the suspension without prejudice to what is agreed upon when the merits of the case are resolved.

The suspension of Worldcoin’s activities in Spain, which the AEPD described as a historic first in protecting citizens’ rights and freedoms, follows a series of concerns raised about the company’s data collection practices. Reports have emerged of Worldcoin collecting biometric data from minors, and questions have been raised about the ability of users to withdraw their consent for the distribution of their biometric information.

Worldcoin’s legal challenges in Spain are not an isolated incident, as the company also faces scrutiny in other countries. On March 4, the South Korean Personal Information Protection Commission announced an investigation into Worldcoin’s data collection practices, further underlining the growing global concern over the handling of personal data by tech companies.

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