Kenya Says Registration of Sam Altman’s Worldcoin in April Not Endorsement

Kenya Says Registration of Sam Altman’s Worldcoin in April Not Endorsement

Kenya’s
interior and information ministries in a joint statement addressed to the
country’s National Assembly said the data controller registration certificate
issued to Worldcoin on April 18, 2023, is not a valid license for the project to operate
in the country. The country has, therefore, kicked off “criminal
investigations” to establish “the authenticity and legality” of Worldcoin’s operations
in the East African country.

Kenya
Starts Criminal Investigation

According
to details contained in the statement, a copy of which was posted on
Facebook today (Thursday) by the Kenyan Ministry of Interior and National
Administration, Worldcoin is “not registered as a legal entity in Kenya.” The
statement is signed by the cabinet secretaries of the two ministries.

“An
application for a certificate of registration only signifies that the entity has
complied with sections 18 and 19 of the Data Protection
Act, 2019, and does
not endorse an entity’s compliance with the Act or its subsidiary regulations,
nor is it a valid license for an organisation to operate in Kenya or authorize
the operations of an entity,” the cabinet secretaries explained.

The
information emerges a day after the interior ministry raised concerns about the
activities of Worldcoin in Kenya and ordered the suspension of the project in the
country. Worldcoin was created by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, and requires
users to scan their irises in exchange for free cryptocurrency. The project
claims it wants to boost the adoption of cryptocurrencies by creating a global
identity network.

Meanwhile,
Worldcoin, according to the statement, first set up registration
booths
across Kenya in April last year ahead of the launch of its cryptocurrency which
went live on Binancelate
last month. The country’s data
regulator, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) ordered the initial suspension of Worldcoin’s
operations in May 2022 in order to investigate the case.

In May this year, ODPC, again “directed immediate cessation of processing of
sensitive personal data,” according to the statement. This suspension was not lifted, the cabinet secretaries noted.

“The
government has commenced investigations to ensure that Worldcoin complies with
the data collection, storage and sharing principles,” the cabinet secretaries noted on the latest investigation. “Immediate mitigation steps being undertaken are
the constitution of a multi-agency team comprising of security, financial
services and data protection agencies [that] have commenced inquiries and
investigations to establish the legality of the activities of Worldcoin, the
safety and the protection of data collected with the aim to safeguard personal data and mitigate
against any adverse practices.”

Meanwhile, while speaking with NTV, a local Kenyan station,
earlier on Wednesday, Elid Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Information,
Communications and the Digital Economy, noted that Worldcoin’s activity
did not violate any law but raised security and regulatory concerns.

“Information
available to the Data Commissioner is that within the existing legal framework
today, there is no provision in the law that the organization [Worldcoin] had
negated. There has been correspondence between the Office of the Data
Commissioner and the entity,” Owalo told the station.

“As far as
the Data Act 2019 is concerned, they were acting within the law,” the minister further
noted, adding that the government was approaching the issue from “a
multi-faceted approach.”

Meanwhile, Finance Magnates reported that data and privacy
regulators in France and the UK previously stated plans to also query Worldcoin.

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This article was written by Solomon Oladipupo at www.financemagnates.com.

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