March 27, 2024
Policy & Regulation

Kenya Rejects US Request to Lift Worldcoin Suspension

Kenya’s Interior Secretary, Kithure Kindiki, has announced that the country will not heed a request from the United States government to revoke its suspension of operations for the cryptocurrency project Worldcoin. Speaking to the National Assembly’s Public Petitions Committee, Kindiki emphasized that Kenya remains firm in its decision to maintain the suspension imposed on Worldcoin since August 2023.

Concerns Over Data Collection and Financial Security

According to Business Daily Africa, Kindiki stated that the ban would continue until assurances about the safety and integrity of financial transactions were delivered. The Kenyan government is particularly concerned about Worldcoin’s gathering of sensitive identification information, including iris scans, in exchange for a digital ID. Kindiki expressed the government’s concerns about such data collection techniques, highlighting the necessity for protections to protect residents’ privacy and financial security.

Parliamentary and Legal Scrutiny

Following the suspension, Kenya formed a 15-member parliamentary committee led by Gabriel Tongoyo to look into the problematic components of the Worldcoin project. Furthermore, legal action has been taken, with a court ordering the retention of Worldcoin data collected between April and August 2023 awaiting the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the data commissioner’s office.

Worldcoin, founded by Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, gained significant attention in Kenya as citizens flocked to register for the program, enticed by the distribution of Worldcoin tokens in exchange for iris scans. Despite its ambitious mission to create a digital ID system based on proof-of-personhood, concerns over privacy and security have led to regulatory scrutiny and legal challenges for the cryptocurrency startup.

OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman. Source: Flickr

The refusal to lift the suspension reflects Kenya’s commitment to safeguarding its citizens’ interests amidst the evolving landscape of digital currencies and identity verification technologies.

Image from Wikimedia Commons

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