International currency Worldcoin is unable to obtain court order to halt Spain’s suspension of citizen’s privacy rights.

Controversial eyeball scanning startup Worldcoin has failed to get an injunction against a temporary suspension ordered Wednesday by Spain’s data protection authority, the AEPD. Today a Madrid-based High Court declined to grant an injunction against the AEPD’s order, saying that the “safeguarding of public interest” must be prioritized. However the court found the AEPD’s suspension order to be justified on account of the risks around biometric data and how many individuals are being put at risk by Worldcoin’s processing, including children. Again, the Court was unimpressed, dismissing what it described as “unsubstantiated assertions” and pointing out the AEPD’s suspension is time-limited; only applies in Spain; and is compensable (i.e. Reached for comment on the dismissal of its appeal for an injunction, Tools for Humanity’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Hahn, emailed a statement she said is attributable to Worldcoin:

Controversial eyeball scanning startup Worldcoin has been hit with a temporary suspension in Spain, after the country’s data protection authority, the AEPD, used emergency powers granted by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The authority, citing concerns over the sensitive nature of the biometric data being collected by Worldcoin, as well as specific concerns about risks to minors, ordered the temporary suspension and precautionary measure against Worldcoin’s operator, Tools for Humanity.

Despite seeking an injunction against the AEPD’s order, the Madrid-based High Court has declined to intervene, stating that the protection of public interest must take priority.

This comes after Worldcoin announced the shutdown of their scanning services in the market, in response to the AEPD’s order which gave them 72 hours to comply. With today’s court ruling, Worldcoin’s services will remain suspended in Spain for up to three months.

In their appeal, Tools for Humanity argued that the AEPD had overstepped their boundaries by triggering the GDPR’s Article 66 “urgency procedure”, especially considering an ongoing investigation by the Bavarian data protection authority. The court, however, found the AEPD’s suspension order to be justified, given the risks involved in processing biometric data and the potential impact on individuals’ rights, such as the right to withdraw consent and to have personal data deleted.

The court also provided further details on the four complaints received by the AEPD, which highlighted issues with data collected from minors, lack of transparency and information provided, and concerns over Worldcoin’s handling of data deletion requests. In particular, one complainant reported that the supposed data deletion procedure did not work, as a code was sent by mail but consistently arrived too late to be valid.

In their efforts to obtain an injunction, Tools for Humanity also argued that the temporary suspension would cause “irreparable harm” to their global business, including economic damage and harm to their reputation, making it more difficult for their eyeball-scanning venture to succeed in the future. However, the court dismissed these claims, noting that the suspension is limited in time and only applies in Spain, and that there is a route for compensation in the future if Tools for Humanity is successful in court.

Worldcoin’s spokeswoman, Rebecca Hahn, provided a statement in response to the dismissal of their appeal, attributing it to Worldcoin themselves:

“Censorship and manipulation of the media is a reprehensible and dangerous act. We believe in the fundamental right to privacy and are committed to protecting it for all individuals. We are confident in our compliance with all relevant laws and regulations, and look forward to resolving this matter in court.”

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Zara Khan

Zara Khan is a seasoned investigative journalist with a focus on social justice issues. She has won numerous awards for her groundbreaking reporting and has a reputation for fearlessly exposing wrongdoing.

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