Worldcoin, the company created by Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT, will stop scanning the iris in Spain in exchange for cryptocurrencies for at least three months.

After several weeks of controversy over the number of people who wanted to scan their irises for crypto, the Spanish Data Protection Agency has ordered Tools for Humanity Corporation, the company behind which WorldCoin is located, to stop collecting biometric data and to block the ones that are already collected.

The organization assures that it has received several complaints denouncing, among other aspects, insufficient information, the collection of data from minors or that the withdrawal of consent is not allowed.

The ban is temporary and is valid for a maximum of three months.

“The processing of biometric data, considered in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as of special protection, entails high risks for the rights of people, taking into account their sensitive nature. Consequently, this precautionary measure is “This is a decision based on exceptional circumstances, in which it is necessary and proportionate to adopt provisional measures aimed at the immediate cessation of this processing of personal data, preventing its possible transfer to third parties and safeguarding the fundamental right to the protection of personal data,” they say. .

The company Tools for Humanity Corporation is based in Germany, so the AEDP falls within the framework of the procedure established in article 66.1 of the GDPR, which establishes that, in exceptional circumstances, when an interested supervisory authority considers it urgent to intervene to protect the rights and freedoms of people, may adopt provisional measures with legal effects in its territory and with a period of validity that may not exceed three months.

“The Agency understands that the adoption of urgent measures of temporary prohibition of activities is justified to avoid potentially irreparable harm and that failure to take them would deprive people of the protection to which they are entitled under the GDPR,” they say.

It is the first time that the Agency takes a precautionary measure of this type.

The company has released a statement in which Jannick Preiwisch, data protection officer, assures that “World ID was created to provide people with access, privacy and protection online. It is the most secure and privacy-preserving solution to confirm humanity in the age of AI, and we are always willing to engage with regulators, review their feedback, and answer their questions.”

Preiwisch assures that “the Spanish data protection authority (AEPD) is circumventing EU law with its actions today, which are limited to Spain and not the EU in general, and spreading inaccurate and misleading claims about our technology to “Our efforts to engage with the AEPD and provide them with an accurate view of Worldcoin and World ID have gone unanswered for months. We are grateful to now have the opportunity to help them better understand this essential and legal technology.”

In recent weeks, the company has been more in the spotlight than ever due to the rise in the price of its cryptocurrency, so users began to form long lines to obtain the 13 cryptos that the company offered by scanning their eyes. Approximately this amount was equivalent to 80 euros.

And for months in many Spanish shopping centers you could see people with a spherical device, called Orb, who offered to scan the iris in exchange for money. The project, created by the founder of ChatGPT a year ago and based in Germany, offered users the possibility of creating a digital certificate of humanity to verify that they are not chatbots, for example, using this unique biometric information.

All users who passed by one of these stations to have their eyes scanned received money in exchange in the form of cryptocurrencies from the company itself. Money that changed value depending on the cryptocurrency market, currently skyrocketing.

In an interview given to this medium at the end of November, the company assured that it already had more than 2.3 million verified users, 250,000 of them in Spain. Currently it is estimated that more than 400,000 have done so.

“Sam was clear a long time ago that artificial intelligence was going to change the world and not in the very distant future. That is why four years ago he started this project, Worldcoin, the network of real and unique people,” Tiago explained to EXPANSIÓN Sada, head of Product, Engineering

Altman’s idea is that there would be an identity passport that would certify that behind any information there is a human and not a machine, and to create that passport an eye scan was necessary.

After more than 250 million dollars raised, in July 2023 Altman together with his partner Alex Blania definitively launched Worldcoin, as an application that serves to certify that one is human, once the iris has been scanned, and a World App cryptocurrency wallet, along with a Worldcoin crypto, to which users who have transferred their eye data have access.

“When we started to grow so quickly, many governments got scared and asked us for more data and authorizations to learn more about our operation. But it must be made clear that the Orb works in a very secure way. The first thing it does is verify that you are a person real, not an animal, that you do not wear a mask, that you do not use fake contact lenses… Then it generates a code with the iris and this will be the only thing that comes out of the machine, the so-called World ID. This is because all the verifications “can be done directly on the device thanks to the fact that the Orb works with eight artificial intelligence models. Everything is deleted immediately,” explained Sada.

This fear that the company manager refers to has become an international alert that has led countries such as France, Germany, South Korea, Nigeria and Argentina to investigate the company, although only Kenya has banned it. along with Spain.