- Hong Kong’s privacy watchdog, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD), investigates Worldcoin over concerns about the use of iris-scanning technology.
- The investigation aims to ensure compliance with local data protection laws and safeguard the privacy of Hong Kong residents.
Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) has launched an investigation into Worldcoin, focusing on concerns regarding the potential risks to personal data privacy arising from its use of iris-scanning technology. The probe, which involved raids on six premises associated with Worldcoin in Hong Kong, aims to ensure compliance with local data protection laws and safeguard the privacy of Hong Kong residents.
Worldcoin’s identity verification method involves the use of orbs that scan users’ irises to verify their identities. While innovative, this approach has raised concerns over the security and handling of sensitive biometric data. Ada Chung Lai-ling, Hong Kong’s privacy commissioner for personal data, has urged the public to exercise caution when sharing sensitive personal information, particularly through activities like iris scanning.
The PCPD’s investigation also includes providing guidance to individuals considering providing their biometric data. The emphasis is on understanding the legitimacy, scope, purpose, and intended use of data collection. It highlights the importance of clarity regarding data disclosure, transfer, retention periods, and the security measures in place to protect sensitive information.
Worldcoin’s Privacy Measures and Ongoing Challenges
Worldcoin has asserted that the biometric data collected by its orbs is processed locally and permanently deleted. Additionally, zero-knowledge proofs are employed to enhance user privacy. Zero-knowledge proofs are a technology that can verify information (e.g., legal drinking age) without disclosing other personal details.
Despite its innovative approach to digital identity verification, Worldcoin has faced challenges, including discontinuing its Orb verification services in India, Brazil, and France. As of December 2023, the platform reported over 5 million user accounts. Its expansion into Singapore and presence in various regions indicate a growing interest in digital identity solutions, but these developments have been accompanied by privacy concerns and regulatory scrutiny. Worldcoin‘s case highlights the ongoing debate over the balance between technological innovation and data privacy.