Spain’s Data Authority Rejects Worldcoin’s Injunction Request Amid Privacy Concerns

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An image showing a Worldcoin scanning device with a "Temporarily Suspended" sign in the foreground, symbolizing the halt of Worldcoin's operations in Spain due to privacy concerns.

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Worldcoin’s Legal Setback in Spain

Worldcoin’s ambitions have hit a major roadblock in Spain, as the company’s request for an injunction against a temporary suspension was denied. The decision was made by a Madrid-based High Court, emphasizing the gravity of concerns surrounding privacy and data protection.

The suspension was initially imposed by Spain’s data protection authority, the AEPD, citing the emergency powers under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The AEPD’s concerns were particularly focused on the collection of sensitive biometric data by Worldcoin, which it believed posed a significant risk to individuals’ rights and freedoms.

Temporary Halt on Operations

Following the AEPD’s order, Worldcoin had no choice but to cease its operations in Spain. This move comes as a significant blow to the company, known for its eyeball-scanning technology, as it now faces a forced hiatus in the country for up to three months. The suspension underscores the increasing scrutiny on tech companies and the handling of personal data, especially when it involves biometric information.

Court’s Rationale: Protecting Public Interest

The court’s refusal to grant the injunction sheds light on the complex balance between technological innovation and privacy rights. In its judgment, the court prioritized the protection of public interest over Worldcoin’s business activities. It highlighted the lack of clarity and safeguards in Worldcoin’s data processing practices, especially concerning minors and the mechanisms for consent withdrawal.

Concerns Over Consent and Data Erasure

The proceedings brought to the fore several issues, including Worldcoin’s alleged deficiencies in informing data subjects about their data collection processes, the absence of an effective consent withdrawal method, and a problematic data deletion procedure. These aspects raised significant doubts about Worldcoin’s compliance with GDPR, particularly in protecting children and ensuring the rights of data subjects are respected.

Implications for Worldcoin’s Global Operations

Despite Tools for Humanity, Worldcoin’s operator, arguing that the suspension would cause irreparable damage to their global business, the court dismissed these claims. The judgment indicated that the AEPD’s temporary suspension, though severe, was justified and within legal bounds, focused solely on operations within Spain.

Company’s Response to the Decision

In response to the court’s decision, Worldcoin spokesperson Rebecca Hahn reiterated the company’s stance on compliance. She emphasized Worldcoin’s commitment to adhering to all laws and regulations concerning the collection and transfer of biometric data, including GDPR. Despite the setback, the company appears determined to navigate through these legal challenges and continue its operations elsewhere.

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