Kenya resists US pressure to revoke WorldCoin suspension over safety concerns

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March 22, 2024
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2 min read
A woman staring into Worldcoin's Orb to scan her iris
Image source: BBC
  • Kenya has remained firm against US pressure to lift the suspension on WorldCoin cryptocurrency activities following its suspension in August 2023.
  • Kithure Kindiki, the Interior Cabinet Secretary, addressing Parliament on Thursday, said the US believes the cryptocurrency has grounds to operate in Kenya. However, the country remains adamant and has opted against reconsidering the suspension.
  • WorldCoin is a project led by OpenAI's CEO, Sam Altman, that has since become involved in collecting biometric data by photographing a person's iris.

Kenyans are promised a reward of Sh7,000 ($52.83) and free WorldCoin tokens in exchange for having their iris scanned.

Previously, Kenyan police raided a warehouse in Nairobi belonging to the crypto company.  It seized machines and documents belonging to the company.

According to Immaculate Kassait, Kenya's Data Commissioner, the WorldCoin's parent company, Tools for Humanity, "did not disclose its true intentions during registration." 

In August 2023, the Kenyan government suspended the cryptocurrency project's local activities while it assessed potential risks to public safety.

In the same month, a Kenyan high court issued an injunction prohibiting the cryptocurrency firm from collecting data from Kenyans pending the outcome of a Data Protection Commissioner's petition.

The judge also instructed Worldcoin to preserve the data it collected from Kenyans between April 19 and August 8, pending the conclusion of an investigation by the state agency.

In October 2033, the parliament requested the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) to deactivate the virtual platforms of WorldCoin while awaiting the review of the regulatory framework for virtual assets.

Additionally, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) cautioned about the rise of possible fraudulent schemes related to cryptocurrencies amidst concerns arising from the introduction of the crypto project.

The CMA stated that WorldCoin operates outside of Kenya's regulations and clarified that products associated with it, such as free crypto tokens, do not qualify as investment products under the Capital Markets Act.

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Although privacy experts have expressed concerns about potential alternative uses of the information, such as personalised marketing, Worldcoin has stated that it will use the data collected to create a unique, secure form of identification.

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