Kenyan officials have leveled allegations against Worldcoin, asserting the company was involved in espionage activities and posed a potential risk to the nation’s sovereignty.
These charges have been informed by an ongoing inquiry led by Kenya’s special committee, activated in response to public apprehensions about Worldcoin’s undertakings, as relayed by local news outlets.
There has been considerable scrutiny directed towards Worldcoin due to their alleged data harvesting methods. It’s reported that they gathered data from Kenyan residents by scanning their irises in return for cryptocurrency.
Earlier in August, Kenya halted Worldcoin’s activities within its borders.
Reports indicate that these contentious operations spanned 30 venues in Nairobi, including shopping centers and educational entities, starting in May 2021.
Authorities Call For an Investigation into Worldcoin’s Parent Company
Led by Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo, the committee has urged the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to thoroughly investigate the involvement of two overseas firms linked to Worldcoin: Tools for Humanity (TFH) Corp and Tools for Humanity (TFH) Gmbh.
Allegations suggest that these companies have been running unlawful operations in Kenya, infringing on multiple Kenyan statutes. This includes breaches of the Data Protection Act, Consumer Protection Act, and the Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes Act.
Interestingly, a search into Kenya’s Business Registration Services database reveals no record of either foreign entity, prompting concerns regarding their legitimate authority to operate in the nation.
The committee’s report points out that Worldcoin’s attempt to register as a data controller on August 22, 2022, was made well after they had begun their Kenyan operations a year earlier.
Such a delay, as stated by Kenyan officials, directly contravenes the stipulations of the Data Protection Act of 2019.
Kenyan Authorities Question How Worldcoin is Storing Citizens’ Data
Central to the concerns about Worldcoin’s operations is the process in which real-time images of irises are transformed into digital codes and subsequently sent to the firm’s foreign-based third-party servers.
While Worldcoin maintains that the harvested data is securely housed in Amazon Web Services located in South Africa, there remain lingering doubts about the feasibility of withdrawing and erasing such data upon necessity.
Further scrutiny has been directed towards the compatibility of transmitting personal data outside of Kenya with Section 48 of the Data Protection Act.
Findings from the investigation indicate that nearly 350,000 Kenyan citizens had registered with Worldcoin by the time its operations were halted by the Kenyan government on August 2, 2023.
Yet, in spite of these regulatory hurdles, Worldcoin’s global appeal doesn’t seem to wane, as it continues to witness a surge in new enrollments across the globe.