Worldcoin insists it doesn’t scan minors’ eyeballs after Portugal pulls the plug

Worldcoin insists it doesn’t scan minors’ eyeballs after Portugal pulls the plug
Portugal ordered Worldcoin to stop collecting biometric data for three months.
  • Portugal has temporarily halted Worldcoin’s collection of biometric data, citing privacy concerns.
  • Worldcoin said none of the regulator’s concerns had been aired prior to the order.
  • The company said it had a 'zero tolerance policy' on scanning minors.

Worldcoin, the iris-scanning startup created to prove people’s humanity in a world overrun by artificial intelligence, has just been banned in yet another nation.

And Worldcoin is contending it didn’t see the action coming.

On Monday, Portugal temporarily prohibited the Worldcoin Foundation from collecting biometric data after saying it had received complaints that underage volunteers had been scanned.

Dozens of complaints

Portugal’s data regulator, the CNPD, said it received dozens of complaints in the past month alleging collection of minors’ data without their parents’ authorization and “the impossibility of deleting the data or revoking consent.”

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The regulator ordered Worldcoin to stop collecting biometric data for 90 days as it investigates the complaints.

Worldcoin countered that it was not warned about these complaints by officials.

“The report from CNPD is the first time we are hearing from them regarding many of these matters, including reports of underage sign-ups in Portugal,” Jannick Preiwisch, the Worldcoin Foundation’s data protection officer, said in an email.

Preiwisch said Worldcoin follows a zero tolerance policy for underage signups and is working to address “all instances” when this may have happened.

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Worldcoin’s website states that “World ID verification” is open to anyone 18 or older.

But it also notes people “should never be asked for your personal information (name, email, phone number, etc.) when you verify”

Earlier this month, Spain also banned Worldcoin from operating in the country for up to three months, citing privacy concerns.

Authorities in Germany, the UK, and France are also investigating the company.

World ID

In December, the project stopped its orb services in France as well as operations in India and Brazil after a temporary “preview” of the project in these countries.

Backed by OpenAI founder Sam Altman, Worldcoin collects biometric data in the form of iris scans, which can be used to prove identity in the same way fingerprints are often used.

Worldcoin then creates a “World ID,” accessible in the World App, that will serve as a sort of digital passport and “proof of humanity” in a future where artificial intelligence is ubiquitous and impossible to distinguish online from flesh-and-blood humans.

Worldcoin’s custom iris-scanning device, the basketball-sized “orb,” distributes 10 WLD per scan. Additionally, people who’ve been scanned can claim a biweekly “grant” currently set at 3 WLD, though that amount is expected to decrease over time. The Ethereum-based WLD tokens were worth almost $9 Tuesday. As such, they’ve become a popular way to earn free money in some developing countries.

More than 4.5 million people in 120 countries have been scanned by an orb, according to the organisation’s website.

Even as WLD enjoys a surge in value — it is up 145% this year — the company is increasingly embattled in Europe, where regulators have banned its data collection or opened investigations over privacy concerns.


Worldcoin said it is taking steps to address some of the criticism. It recently open-sourced its orb software, making it available for anyone to review and copy.

It also began rolling out a feature it calls “personal custody.” Encrypted, orb-generated data will be held by users on their personal devices.

“Previously, this information was deleted by default,” Worldcoin said.

Correction: This story was updated on March 26 to state that Worldcoin’s mobile application is World App, not Worldcoin App. It was also updated to reflect that people receive 10 WLD after being scanned — rather than 75 WLD — as well as recurring grants of 3 WLD.

Aleks Gilbert is DL News’ New York-based DeFi correspondent. You can reach him at

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