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French data watchdog carries out 'checks' at Worldcoin Paris office

By Sudip Kar-Gupta and Martin Coulter

PARIS (Reuters) -France's data watchdog carried out "checks" at Worldcoin's Paris office this week, amid global regulatory pressure on the digital currency firm co-founded by ChatGPT-founder Sam Altman.

France's CNIL watchdog said in July it was investigating Worldcoin as the legality of its biometric data "seemed questionable".

"Checks took place at the Worldcoin offices," a CNIL spokesperson said on Thursday, confirming an earlier Politico report that the visit took place on Wednesday. The spokesperson declined to give any further details.

Worldcoin requires users to provide their iris scans in exchange for a digital ID and, in some countries, in exchange for free cryptocurrency. Its website says it has signed up 2.1 million people, mostly in a trial over the last two years.

The Worldcoin Foundation, a Cayman Islands-based entity, told Reuters via email: "The team at Worldcoin welcomes any opportunity to address questions regarding the project’s purpose and technology."

In response to CNIL's initial July probe, the Worldcoin Foundation said Worldcoin was designed to protect individual privacy, had built a robust privacy programme, and was committed to meeting regulatory requirements.

OpenAI, the company which has created ChatGPT, is backed by Microsoft.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Additional reporting by Martin Coulter in London; Editing by Alexander Smith and Mark Potter)