Kenya Suspends World Coin Project Over Data Privacy Concerns

The Kenyan government has revoked the registration certificate of a controversial cryptocurrency project that involves scanning people’s iris using a device called the Orb. The project, known as Worldcoin, claims to offer free tokens to anyone who participates in the iris scan, as part of its vision to create a universal basic income for everyone in the world.

However, the project has faced a lot of criticism and suspicion from Kenyans, who have raised questions about the privacy and security of their biometric data, as well as the legality and legitimacy of the project. Many Kenyans have expressed fears that their data could be used for malicious purposes, such as identity theft, surveillance, or targeted advertising.

According to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC), the registration certificate that was issued to Worldcoin’s parent company, Tools for Humanity, in June 2022 was done irregularly and without proper due diligence.

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The ODPC has also accused the company of violating the Data Protection Act by transferring the data collected from Kenyans to servers outside the country, without obtaining their consent or informing them of their rights.

The company has denied any wrongdoing and has defended its project as a humanitarian initiative that aims to empower people and reduce poverty. The company has also said that it does not sell or share the data collected from the iris scans and that it uses encryption and anonymization techniques to protect the data.

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The company has appealed to the National Assembly Adhoc Committee, which is probing its operations, to lift the suspension of its activities and to create regulations for the cryptocurrency sector in Kenya.

The ODPC has also revealed that 11 other companies were involved in facilitating Worldcoin’s activities in Kenya, including banks, mobile money operators, courier services, and marketing agencies. The ODPC has ordered these companies to stop any dealings with Worldcoin and to submit reports on their involvement with the project.

The Worldcoin saga has sparked a debate on the role and regulation of cryptocurrencies in Kenya, as well as the need for data protection awareness and enforcement. The ODPC has urged Kenyans to be vigilant and cautious when sharing their personal data with any entity, especially those that offer incentives or rewards.

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