Worldcoin Crypto Initiative Suspended by Authorities in Kenya Due to Consumer Privacy-related Concerns

Kenya’s interior ministry revealed on Wednesday (August 2, 2023) that it would be suspending the local activities of the crypto-related initiative Worldcoin as the nation’s authorities assess various risks to the public’s general safety.

The initiative established by OpenAI Chief Executive Officer Sam Altman was officially launched this past week. It reportedly requires clients to provide their iris scans so that they are issued an all-digital ID, and in certain areas, clients also receive “free” virtual currency as part of plans to develop an identity and “financial network.”

As first reported by Reuters, Interior minister Kithure Kindiki stated:

“Relevant security, financial services and data protection agencies have commenced inquiries and investigations to establish the authenticity and legality of the aforesaid activities.”

An initial examination of Worldcoin’s global activities has led to serious concerns, Communications Authority of Kenya and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner noted, among them being that acquiring user consent in exchange for a financial incentive appears to be bordering on inducement.

Worldcoin Foundation, a Cayman Islands-registered business, stated that it will be taking the time of suspension to work cooperatively with relevant authorities in order to increase the understanding of privacy measures it has set-up in Kenya and other jurisdictions as well.

The organization stated:

“Worldcoin remains committed to providing an inclusive, privacy-preserving, decentralised on-ramp to the global digital economy and looks forward to resuming its services in Kenya while working closely with local regulators and other stakeholders.”

Kindiki added that the government is concerned with Worldcoin‘s ongoing operations,  and local authorities could investigage how it plans to utilize the user data it obtains.

He also mentioned that the action may be taken against just about anyone who decides to actively engage with its activities without going into much detail on the matter.

Local sources revealed that over 350,000 Kenyan residents had reportedly signed up for Worldcoin as of this past Tuesday in exchange for “free” digital currency valued at about 7,000 Kenyan shillings (or around $50).

After going live, consumers across the globe, including those residing in Kenya, Germany, Spain as well as France, have been rushing to sign up in order to get their eyes scanned by a spherical orb-shaped structure.

It’s worth noting that the WorldCoin initiative has been scrutinized by authorities in the UK,  Germany, and France.

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