Watchdog says Kenyans can still sign up for WorldCoin

NC4 officials David Njoga and James Kimuyu the National Assembly ad-hoc committee on WorldCoin. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Kenyans can register for the controversial cryptocurrency WorldCoin, despite its suspension in the country by the Interior and Coordination ministry due to identity exploitation and cyber-attacks.

A report from Kenya’s cybercrimes watchdog to Parliament revealed that Kenyans can still sign up on WorldCoin’s online recruitment, as Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki only suspended the platform’s physical operations.

The National Computer and Cybercrimes Coordination Committee (NC4) Tuesday admitted they were unaware of the entity’s activities in Kenya, accusing it of entering the country deceptively.

NC4 director James Kimuyu told the National Assembly ad-hoc committee on the WorldCoin inquiry that the entity eluded detection by posing as a research project.

Mr Kimuyu, in his statements to the Narok West MP Gabriel Tongoyo-led committee, said that WorldCoin operates in 34 other countries, including Uganda and Sudan. He added that its subsidiary firms were registered in the Cayman and British Virgin Islands, which are known as tax havens.

He identified Kenyans representing the parent firm Tools for Humanity, Wangechi Mwangi and Rael Mwende, as well as entities like Platinum De Plus and EXP Kenya, also associated with WorldCoin.

“They came into the country in late 2022 and their operations were small scale ... this thing blew up when we saw the queues,” said Kimuyu, accusing WorldCoin of “obvious breaches of our data protection laws”.

The breaches involve hiring unregistered data processors and exporting Kenyans’ biometric data to a foreign country.

Kimuyu noted that WorldCoin claimed the data were stored on an Amazon server in San Francisco, US, without offering proof of proper safeguards as mandated by law.

This data includes biometrics gathered from 350,000 Kenyans within a week. The NC4 warned that this data could potentially be used to recreate a human user behind a computer interface, once proof of identity is established.

The NC4 officials said that WorldCoin’s registration as a data controller and processor, issued in April, allowed the entity unrestricted use of the data.

However, they expressed concern that some data the entity claimed to have deleted from its registration orb might still exist.

However, NC4 officials could not link the project to any wrongdoing.