CS Kindiki suspends controversial Worldcoin amid probe on others

Members of the public throng KICC's gate for crypto trading on August 01,2023 where people who have downloaded the application was given coins worth Ksh.6500 for free. The process was indefinitely stopped. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The government has suspended operations of cryptocurrency company, World Coin in Kenya.

The government raised concern over the world crypto firm involved in a controversial digital recruitment.

In a statement on Wednesday, Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said they have halted activities of “World Coin” and warned against similar operations even as the government commences investigations on the same.

“Relevant security, financial services and data protection agencies have commenced inquiries and investigations to establish authenticity and legality of the aforesaid activities,” said Prof Kindiki.

This comes amid public uproar over breach of citizens data safety concerns. Questions merged over the mandate of the Office of Data Protection Commission (ODPC) to protect Kenyans’ private information.

Nairobi lawyer and human rights activist Harrison Kinyanjui condemned the government over what he termed negligence in protecting its citizens’ information.

Mr Kinyanjui said the exercise is an exploitative one that should not be allowed to continue without proper government advisory.

“Why is our government allowing this to go on? What is the office of the data protection commission doing? Just saying we have issued a communication, a communication is not protecting these people,” he said.

ODPC was established under Data Protection Act 2019 with the responsibility of ensuring safety and privacy of personal data.

On July 28, the Office of Data Protection Commission called for heightened vigilance from the members of the public as they verified activities of World Coin, engaged in Iris data identification process.

“As the ODPC conducts its assessment of Worldcoin’s practices to ensure compliance with the law, Kenyans are urged to ensure that they receive proper information before disclosing any personal or sensitive data,” reads the statement in part.

For the fourth day running, the recruitment has seen people flock at Kenyatta International Convention Centre since Sunday, seeking to benefit from a token the company offers upon registration.

What seemed more sinister was that the company had their customers’ Iris scanned through an orb scanner to be registered to benefit. 

They claimed it was a verification criterion to discern real human being from a robot.

Kenyans who had thronged KICC to benefit did not mind safety of their personal information, but largey interested in pocketing the money.

According to the company, one would be awarded 25 points they refer to as air drops that the beneficiary would then trade with a forex trader for about Sh7000. 

CS Kithure has issued an assurance to hold the company liable should the government detect any breach of data security in their operations.

“It will be critical that assurances of public safety and the integrity of the financial transactions involving such a large number of citizens be satisfactorily provided upfront,” said the CS.