Court orders Worldcoin not to transfer or process data collected from Kenyans

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August 15, 2023
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2 min read
A woman staring into Worldcoin's Orb to scan her iris
Image source: BBC

Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has filed a lawsuit to prohibit Worldcoin from transferring or processing data collected from Kenyans.

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency project that scans people's eyes to create a global financial database for humans.

According to the ODPC, the Worldcoin project's processing of personal data does not follow the guidelines for data protection outlined in Section 25 of the Act.

In an affidavit, Oscar Otieno, the Deputy Data Commissioner, says that after reviewing the Worldcoin project operations in the country, he is confident that it is unsafe for Kenyans and that additional research is ongoing.

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Justice Nixon Sifuna ordered Worldcoin to preserve the data it collected from Kenyans between April 19 and August 8 while the government agency conducts its investigation.

Worldcoin collects Kenyans’ biometric information by taking pictures of their irises in exchange for KSh 7,000 ($50) or 25 World tokens.

While Worldcoin contends that it will use the collected data to create a unique, secure form of identification, privacy experts expressed concern that the business might use the data in other ways, like personalised marketing.

“Despite the suspension and directive to cease processing of personal data, the respondents continued to process the said personal data. It took the public directive by the CS Interior to halt their operations on August 2,” Otieno says.

For context, on August 2, 2023, Kenya's Ministry of Interior and National Administration suspended the activities of Worldcoin.

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On August 7, 2023, Kenyan law enforcement officers raided a warehouse on Mombasa Road in Nairobi and seized equipment they believed contained data gathered by Worldcoin. 

The team reportedly took the equipment to the main office of the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for additional inspection. 

She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
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She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.

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