Kenyan government suspends Worldcoin operations amid concerns over data privacy and legitimacy


  • Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior has suspended Worldcoin’s operations.
  • The suspension is for an investigation into legitimacy and data protection.
  • Nairobi was a key market, with over 250,000 sign-ups.

In a striking move against a global identity crypto protocol, Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior has suspended the operations of Worldcoin within the country. Worldcoin, co-founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, has come under scrutiny for its practices in collecting iris data. The suspension will remain effective as various Kenyan agencies assess the project’s risks to the public.

Worldcoin’s initiative has aimed to create a global identification mechanism utilizing iris scans, a technology designed to verify that an agent is human and unique. This identification approach has been deemed potentially vital in a world where artificially intelligent agents participate in the economy. However, the methodology, particularly in developing countries, has sparked widespread criticism.

The Kenyan Government expressed concerns over the ongoing activities of Worldcoin, which involves registering citizens by collecting their eyeball or iris data. According to a statement posted on the ministry’s Facebook page, signed by Minister Kithure Kindiki, the suspension was enforced forthwith. Kenya is the first country to fully suspend Worldcoin’s operations as its local agencies investigate the legitimacy and data protection of the project.

Before the suspension, Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, had emerged as a key market for Worldcoin. Over a quarter of a million people had signed up by December 2022. The news is a significant blow to Worldcoin, which had previously highlighted Nairobi as a city with substantial demand.

The suspension in Kenya is not an isolated incident. Several European regulators have begun investigations into Worldcoin, including the Bavarian data protection office, which supervises the firm. However, the escalation to complete suspension in Kenya signals intensifying scrutiny of the company’s operations.

Worldcoin’s users who have had their irises scanned received WLD tokens since the project’s launch last week. Despite the suspension, the WLD token has risen 3.88% to $2.40 on crypto exchanges in the last 24 hours, as per CoinMarketCap data.

Global scrutiny and Worldcoin’s ambitions

The identity-focused crypto project’s broader goals have included a rapid increase in people getting scanned around the globe. The company is currently ramping up production of its retina-scanning orbs, primarily developed by San Francisco-based startup Tools for Humanity.

With over 2 million users predominantly based in the Global South, Worldcoin’s ambition to provide online identity verification through its technology has been met with interest and concern.

The situation in Kenya reflects a growing global trend of regulatory authorities taking a critical stance towards new technologies, especially in crypto and digital identity. The suspension raises essential questions about the balance between innovation and potential exploitation or privacy risks, highlighting the necessity of ethical considerations and robust regulation in the crypto industry.

Disclaimer. The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions.

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Damilola Lawrence

Damilola is a crypto enthusiast, content writer, and journalist. When he is not writing, he spends most of his time reading and keeping tabs on exciting projects in the blockchain space. He also studies the ramifications of Web3 and blockchain development to have a stake in the future economy.

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