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Kenya government suspends ‘Worldcoin’ cryptosystem operations amidst investigations into privacy and legality

The Kenyan government halted all Worldcoin-related activities on Wednesday while it conducted a thorough inquiry into the project’s legality and data protection practices. Founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, Worldcoin is an identity cryptosystem that aims to provide everyone with access to the global economy. Individuals who wish to use Worldcoin must first obtain a WorldID by visiting a Worldcoin Operator and providing their unique personhood at what the company calls an Orb. This procedure, however, has been criticized, with Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin raising concerns about the user identification scheme and potential privacy risks.

According to a statement issued by the Kenyan Ministry of Interior, “The Government is concerned by the ongoing activities of an organization calling itself ‘WORLD COIN’ which is involved in the registration of citizens through the collection of eyeball/iris data.”

The government launched investigations with relevant security, financial, and data protection organizations to investigate the legality of Worldcoin-related operations. These investigations will also look into the security of information obtained through Worldcoin operations and how the project’s harvesters might make use of this information.

The Kenyan Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) issued an urgent advisory to Kenyan citizens, asking them to exercise caution when dealing with Worldcoin. In a joint statement, the ODPC and the Communications Authority of Kenya also expressed legitimate concerns over Worldcoin’s procedures. The lack of clarity about the preservation of sensitive data, as well as the uncertainty surrounding consumer protection in Worldcoin and related ICT services, were key issues. The ODPC also questioned the legality of getting consumer consensus in exchange for monetary rewards, arguing that such actions could be interpreted as inducement. Furthermore, the ODPC emphasized the possible risk of large amounts of citizen data falling into the hands of private firms lacking sufficient regulatory structures.

Similar concerns have been expressed in Europe, prompting data protection offices to launch investigations into the same issue. Nonetheless, Kenya is the first country to totally ban Worldcoin operations pending further investigations.

Article:Kenya government suspends Worldcoin cryptosystem operations amidst investigations into privacy and legality

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