Kenya Suspends Worldcoin Project, Cites Data Privacy Concerns

On Tuesday, August 1, the minister of internal security in Kenya, Kithure Kindiki, ordered the suspension of the Worldcoin crypto project. In his report, Mr. Kindiki announced that the Worldcoin project would remain suspended until regulatory agencies prove that the project has a minimum risk to data privacy.

The minister tasked security, data protection, financial regulators, and sleuths to probe and inquire about the controversial crypto projects. He demanded the regulators to investigate the safety of the data collected by the Worldcoin project.

Mr. Kindiki ordered the regulators to probe how the Worldcoin project plans to use the biometric data. In his August 1 press release, the minister announced that the Worldcoin project would resume after the public agencies certify that the project has a minimum risk to Kenyans.

Worldcoin Suspended in Kenya

Recently, thousands of Kenyans have been flocking to malls to get their iris scanned. In return, the registered Kenyans are given free tokens 25WLD, which translates to Ksh 7000.

The report stated that after registration and scanning on the orbs, the applicant was provided with digital IDs. Commenting on this, Worldcoin noted that the digital ID will support the growth of the artificial intelligence sector by allowing humans to verify they are not bots.

The minister expressed concerns about the data security of the embattled crypto project. He demanded to know why Worldcoin gathered sensitive information, including iris scans. As of this publication, over 350,000 Kenyans have signed up for the Worldcoin project.

In his report, Mr. Kindiki confessed that the government is distressed on the integrity of the financial transactions that involve huge exchange of funds. The minister announced plans to take legal action against individuals or entities engaging in such crypto activities.

In an interview with a cybersecurity expert, Allan Lwala told a local news agency that the main disadvantage of the Worldcoin project was the collection of biometric data. He explained the harm biometric data breaches could cause to vulnerable Kenyans.

Even though the free tokens were issued in crypto, Lwala worried on data privacy measures of the Worldcoin project. The legality of ensuring biometric data has been lapped up with skepticism from global regulators.

Risk of Biometric Data Breaches 

Last month regulators in Germany and France formed an alliance to probe and make compliance inquiries into the operation of Worldcoin. In the joint report, CNIL and Bavarian state authority questioned the legality of storing and collecting biometric data.

Before this, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office announced plans to make inquiries to Worldcoin due to the risk involved in collecting high-risk data such as biometric information.

Also the co-inventor of the Ethereum blockchain Vitalik Buterin had highlighted major issues of the Worldcoin project. Buterin argued that the Worldcoin project could accidentally expose individual sensitive information such as medical conditions, sex, and ethnicity to third parties.

Worldcoin Facing Probe

Addressing the NTVKenya, the ICT cabinet secretary Eliud Owlao confirmed that the government is aware of the Worldcoin project. The CS confessed that the Worldcoin project had sought a clearance letter from the Kenyan Office of Data Commissioner outlining the scope of the suspended projects.

In his defensive statement, Owlao argued that the Worldcoin project had not violated Kenyan regulations. On July 24, the OpenAI team led by co-founder Sam Altman officially launched the Worldcoin project and a crypto wallet WLD.

The developers of Worldcoin announced that the software will utilize the zero-knowledge proof to distinguish humans and bots. Since 2020, the Worldcoin team has been working on the project to safeguard users and protect their digital identities.

In years to come, the Worldcoin team anticipates the AI sector to grow exponentially. With the expected growth of AI, the Worldcoin team utilized the proof of personhood (PoP) technology to develop a digital ID system that will differentiate humans and bots.

In May, the Worldcoin team generated $115 million in a series C funding round led by Blockchain Capital. This investment was utilized to develop the decentralized identification platform dubbed World App.

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