The Kenyan government has recently taken action to investigate the operations of Worldcoin, an American-based cryptocurrency firm. The government’s concern stems from Worldcoin’s collection of biometric data, which does not comply with Kenya’s data privacy laws. In exchange for a digital ID called a global ID, users are required to provide their iris scans and receive free Worldcoin tokens. This initiative aims to establish a new identity and financial network. However, the government views this collection of biometric data as a potential security risk, prompting the need for further investigation.

To address these concerns, Kenya’s National Assembly Speaker, Rt Hon. (Dr.) Moses Wetang’ula, has established a 17-member committee known as the Joint Ad Hoc Committee. This committee has been tasked with investigating the activities of Worldcoin and reporting their findings to the House within 42 days. The committee began its investigations on Monday, following a meeting to outline their Terms of Reference and identify potential experts and witnesses to contribute to the investigation.

Gabriel Tongoyo, the head of the committee, has stated that key experts and witnesses to appear before the legislators include the Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury, the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), and the Ministry of Health. These individuals will provide valuable insights regarding Worldcoin’s relationship with crypto trading in Kenya, as well as the potential health hazards associated with the collection of iris scans. Additionally, the office of the Attorney General, the Registrar of Companies, and the Data Commissioner will address questions regarding the legal framework governing Worldcoin’s operations in Kenya, ensuring that due diligence was followed during the registration process.

Response to Regulatory Concerns

Local media outlets have reported that more than 350,000 Kenyans have signed up for Worldcoin, enticed by the offer of $49 worth of WLD tokens, equivalent to approximately 7,000 Kenyan shillings, before the operation was suspended. Despite the significant response from the public, it is clear that regulatory concerns remain a priority for authorities. Worldcoin’s collection of biometric data, without complying with regulatory requirements, raised skepticism among citizens. Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority highlighted the absence of regulatory supervision in Worldcoin’s activities within the country, further fueling concerns regarding data protection and privacy. As a result, the Interior Cabinet Secretary, Kithure Kindiki, ordered the suspension of all Worldcoin operations in Kenya to address these security concerns. Eliud Owalo, the digital counterpart of Kithure Kindiki, has also warned about the potential risks associated with Worldcoin.

Collaboration with Authorities

In response to the investigation and suspension, Worldcoin has expressed its willingness to cooperate with Kenyan authorities. The company has outlined plans to restart its operations after implementing crowd-control measures. However, recent reports indicate that the Kenyan police conducted a raid on Worldcoin’s facility in Nairobi two weeks ago. The purpose of the raid was to seize documents and equipment necessary for accessing the data collected by Worldcoin, enabling proper investigations to take place.

The Kenyan government’s decision to launch an investigation into Worldcoin’s operations highlights the importance of data privacy and regulatory compliance. With concerns regarding the collection of biometric data and the potential security risks associated with it, authorities have taken swift action to protect citizens’ information. The Joint Ad Hoc Committee’s investigation, featuring experts and witnesses from various sectors, aims to shed light on Worldcoin’s activities in Kenya and ensure that the operation adheres to legal and privacy standards. Only through comprehensive investigations and collaboration between Worldcoin and authorities can the concerns surrounding data privacy and regulatory compliance be adequately addressed.

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