Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior suspended the operations of Worldcoin, an identity crypto protocol co-founded by Sam Altman of OpenAI.
The decision comes as the country’s financial, security, and data protection authorities initiate an investigation into the project’s legitimacy and data security.
The move highlights the growing concerns surrounding the collection and usage of biometric data, particularly in developing nations.
In response to mounting worries, Kenya’s Ministry of the Interior issued a statement via its official Facebook page, announcing the suspension of Worldcoin’s operations.
The statement expressed the government’s unease with the activities of the organization, which it identified as “WORLD COIN.”
The organization was reportedly engaged in registering citizens by collecting iris data. Minister Kithure Kindiki emphasized the need to ensure data protection and legitimacy in such initiatives.
Worldcoin aims to establish a global identification system based on iris scans, offering a means to verify a person’s unique human identity.
With the increasing participation of artificial intelligence agents in economic activities, such a mechanism holds potential importance.
However, concerns have arisen due to the sensitive nature of biometric data collection and the ethical considerations involved, especially in regions with limited data protection regulations.
Several European regulatory bodies, including the Bavarian data protection office overseeing Worldcoin, have initiated inquiries into the project.
However, Kenya has gone a step further by suspending the company’s operations entirely during the local investigation. This move underscores the gravity of the concerns raised.
Worldcoin users who underwent iris scanning received WLD tokens upon the project’s recent launch. In the wake of these developments, the WLD token experienced a 4.8% increase, reaching $2.41 on crypto exchanges within 24 hours.
Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority also weighed in on the matter, issuing a “cautionary statement” in which it clarified that neither the project nor its tokens fall under its regulatory purview.
The authority, however, expressed its readiness to collaborate with Worldcoin through its regulatory sandbox, emphasizing the importance of addressing potential fraudulent schemes that could emerge in the crypto token market.