The Kenyan government has ordered the suspension of all activities related to the registration of the recently-launched cryptocurrency project Worldcoin and the distribution of its native token WLD.
According to an official statement by Kithure Kindiki, Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and National Administration, the government is concerned with the registration of Kenyans through the collection of iris data and has ordered the pause of such activities.
Kenya Halts Worldcoin Registration Activities
Kindiki disclosed that financial services and data protection agencies had begun investigations into the authenticity and legality of Worldcoin’s registration activities. They want to know the safety and protection of the collected data and what it will be used for, as a rising number of Kenyans are flocking to registration sites to get their irises scanned in exchange for free WLD.
The government believes it is crucial to provide upfront assurance that such financial transactions involving many citizens would ensure public safety; hence, all Worldcoin activities would be paused until then. Enforcement actions will be taken against anyone or entity that goes against the order.
“Accordingly, the Government has SUSPENDED forthwith, activities of ‘WORLD COIN’ 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. 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,” Kindiki stated.
While the Worldcoin team deems the project as a privacy-preserving digital identity based on the decentralized proof-of-personhood concept, regulators in several regions think otherwise and have commenced their investigations.
Led by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the company behind the popular AI platform ChatGPT, Worldcoin was launched in July after roughly three years of being in the works. The project was created to allow users to prove their humanity online and, in turn, receive WLD. To do this, they have to scan their irises through a biometric verification device called an Orb, which creates a unique identifier out of human eyeballs.
The Orb has sparked concerns over privacy risks, but Worldcoin claims it does not store any data locally but deletes them after verification. With over 200 Orbs in circulation, the company intends to release 1,500 more by the end of the year.