Worldcoin ‘disappointed’ with ban in Hong Kong, says authorities ‘overlooked’ aspects

The Worldcoin Foundation expressed disappointment with Hong Kong regulatory authorities’ recent ban, emphasizing its commitment to lawful operation and data privacy compliance.

The Worldcoin Foundation has expressed its disappointment with the recent decision by Hong Kong regulatory authorities to ban its operations, asserting that the organization operates lawfully and complies fully with all relevant data privacy laws, including Hong Kong’s personal data (privacy) ordinance.

In a commentary to, a spokesperson for the Worldcoin Foundation said the company “operates lawfully and is designed to be fully compliant with all laws and regulations governing data collection and use.”

“This includes the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance of Hong Kong, among many other similar statutes across other markets.”

Spokesperson for the Worldcoin Foundation

Worldcoin emphasized that its mission is to prepare humanity for the age of artificial intelligence by raising the bar on privacy standards through strategies like data minimization, user control over data, and advanced technologies such as personal custody, iris code deletion, and secure multi-party computation. The foundation argues these measures ensure user data is handled with the highest levels of security and privacy.

“Unfortunately, the authorities in Hong Kong overlooked these aspects in their evaluation of the humanness verification process.”

Spokesperson for the Worldcoin Foundation

Worldcoin’s response to the Hong Kong ban comes after the region’s privacy regulator found that Worldcoin contravened local privacy laws, saying the San Francisco-headquartered startup poses risks to privacy associated with the way how it handles biometric data. The Privacy Commissioner, Ada Chung Lai-ling said the face and iris images collected by the Worldcoin project were “unnecessary and excessive,” violating local rules.

As reported earlier, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data (PCPD) also found that Worldcoin failed to inform participants of their data access and correction rights, further violating privacy laws. As a result, the Privacy Commissioner issued an enforcement notice directing Worldcoin to “cease all operations of the Worldcoin project in Hong Kong in scanning and collecting iris and face images of members of the public using iris scanning devices.”

Founded in 2019 by Sam Altman, Max Novendstern, and Alex Blania, Worldcoin is a crypto project aimed at creating a global digital identity platform using iris-scanning technology. In May 2023, the project secured $115 million in a Series C funding round led by Blockchain Capital with participation from Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Bain Capital Crypto, and Distributed Global​.

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