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South Korea Investigates Worldcoin Over Data Collection Concerns

A South Korean committee responsible for personal information matters is probing Worldcoin for collecting and processing sensitive information.

A government notice issued Monday stated that the Personal Information Protection Committee initiated an investigation into the digital identity project on Feb. 29. This action followed complaints about the collection and processing of personal information, including iris scanning.

According to the notice, Worldcoin affiliates are currently collecting facial and iris recognition data at around 10 locations in Korea.

As a result, the commission plans to probe the overall collection and overseas transfer of personal information. Action will be taken if violations of the Personal Information Protection Act are found, it said.

Worldcoin Faces Privacy Backlash

Worldcoin, led by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has sparked privacy concerns globally due to its handling of biometric data. Regulators in various countries, including Germany, France, and Britain, have announced investigations into the project’s practices regarding biometric information management.

More recently, Hong Kong’s data protection authority investigated six local Worldcoin booths. Hong Kong’s Privacy Commissioner Chung Liling warned the public about the risks associated with participating in iris scanning activities and urged caution.

In December, Worldcoin temporarily halted its orb verification service in India, Brazil, and France.

Nearly 4M Sign-Ups Despite Sensitive Data Collection Concerns

Worldcoin aims to establish a universal basic income system where individuals receive regular cryptocurrency grants as a guaranteed income source. It uses a device called the “Orb” to scan people’s eyes, ensuring fair distribution of grants to different individuals.

The Worldcoin Foundation told Cryptonews in February that it was established “to help create access and participation in the global digital economy while preserving privacy.”

“Worldcoin does not seek to know who a person is, just that they are human and unique. As such, any information used to verify unique humanness is promptly deleted by default,” a spokesperson said. The project encourages regulators and consumers to seek information or clarifications about the programs it offers, they said.

Despite claims about its controversial practices, Worldcoin has attracted over 3.9m sign-ups as of early March and counts over 450,000 in average daily wallet transactions.

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