Gov’t suspends Worldcoin activities in Kenya

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 2 Aug, 2023 10:30 | 2 mins read
Gov't suspends Worldcoin activities in Kenya
People queue at KICC, Nairobi yesterday to scan their iris in exchange for Worldcoin tokens worth Sh7,700. PHOTO/John Ochieng'

The government has suspended all Wordcoin registration activities in the country over security concerns.

In a statement on Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithire Kindiki said the exercise that involved collection of iris data had been halted until all security concerns were addressed.

"The Government is concerned by the ongoing activities of an organization calling itself ‘Worldcoin’ which is involved in the registration of citizens through collection of eyeball/iris data.

Kindiki confirmed that investigations are ongoing to establish the safety of data collected by the new cryptocurrency project founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Max Novendstern and Alex Blania.

"Relevant security, financial services and data protection agencies have commenced inquiries and investigations to establish the authenticity and legality of the aforesaid activities, the safety and protection of the data being harvested, and how the harvesters intend to use the data," Kindiki said.

Kindiki said it would be critical that assurances of public safety and the integrity of the financial transactions involving such a large number of citizens be satisfactorily provided upfront.

"Accordingly, the Government has suspended forthwith, activities of ‘Worldcoin’ and any other entity that may be similarly engaging the people of Kenya until relevant public agencies certify the absence of any risks to the general public whatsoever," Kindiki added, further warning that stern action will be taken against any person found engaging in the activities during the period.

"Appropriate action will be taken on any natural or juristic person who furthers, aids, abets or otherwise engages in or is connected with the activities afore described."

The statement comes a day after police halted the Wordcoin registration exercise at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).

Thousands of Kenyans have been gathering in select stations in the city to have their eyeball data taken in exchange for cryptocurrency tokens.

Worldcoin representatives told the media that the registration activities were suspended at KICC over security concerns. The police told them to put the exercise on hold because the venue was unable to accommodate the large number of people who turned up for registration.

The officials said they were asked to seek alternative venues like Kasarani and Nyayo stadiums which are bigger.

As of Tuesday, more than 300,000 Kenyans had enrolled for Worldcoin.

Worldcoin catch

The exercise entailed scanning a user's eyes to capture the iris, data the founders say is assigned to a unique number.

Any registered user was awarded 25 Worldcoin tokens worth $2(Ksh284) which is approximately Ksh7,000.

Related Topics