The Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) in Hong Kong has announced an investigation into the local operations of identity verification project Worldcoin, citing “serious risks to personal data privacy.”
The PCPD revealed that it had executed warrants and entered six premises controlled by Worldcoin in Hong Kong as part of its investigation.
The commission requested documents and information related to the project. Worldcoin, which was founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, uses iris-scanning orbs for users to verify their identity and obtain a World ID.
The PCPD stated:
“The PCPD is concerned that the operation of Worldcoin in Hong Kong involves serious risks to personal data privacy, and believes that the collection and processing of sensitive personal data by the relevant organization may be in contravention of the requirements of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.”
According to the PCPD, any personal data controlled by Worldcoin “must be collected for a lawful purpose” related to the project’s function or activity.
The commission emphasized that the information collected from users’ irises was considered “sensitive” according to regulatory guidelines.
Worldcoin, which was officially launched in July 2023, saw more than 5 million people around the world create Worldcoin accounts using their identities.
However, the project has drawn the attention of regulators in several countries due to privacy concerns.