Worldcoin is suspended in Kenya as thousands wait in line for free currency

Concerning data privacy, the Kenyan government has instructed Worldcoin to cease adding new users.

Sam Altman, an American tech entrepreneur, founded Worldcoin, which offers complimentary crypto tokens to individuals willing to have their eyes scanned.

Thousands of Kenyans have waited in line this week at registration centers to obtain the currency worth approximately $49 (£39). Kenya cautioned its citizens against providing their data to private companies.

In a statement, the Communications Authority of Kenya expressed its concerns regarding: How the biometric data was stored, offering money in exchange for data, and having so much data in private hands.

The ministry of the interior has initiated an investigation into Worldcoin and requested that security services and data protection agencies determine its legality and authenticity.

Before resuming operations, Worldcoin plans to implement crowd-control measures and collaborate with the government, according to a statement released on Thursday. It was also stated that Kenyan regulations are followed.

Hundreds had lined up for registration at one of the pop-up registration centers in the capital, Nairobi, on Wednesday, but many were turned away because the large gathering was deemed a "security risk."

"I visited yesterday. I waited until my phone's battery expired. So I returned again today, but I missed registration once again. I appreciate Worldcoin due to the money. I am not concerned about the data collection. As long as the money continues to flow," Dickson Muli added.

Worldcoin states that it cannot tell how many Kenyans have had their eyes scanned. It purports to be developing a new "identity and financial network" on a global scale.

Mr. Altman, who founded Open AI and created the chatbot ChatGPT, believes the initiative will help determine whether a person is human or a robot. He also suggests that this could result in everyone receiving a universal basic income, although it is unclear how.

The business insists that no information is stored. However, privacy experts are concerned that sensitive information obtained through retinal scanning could fall into the wrong hands.

Kenya's Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) urged the public to be more vigilant when using Worldcoin, stating that the procedure requires "demonstration of proper safeguards in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2019."

The Kenyan Capital Markets Authority (CMA) expressed concern over the ongoing registration and informed Kenyans that Worldcoin was unregulated in the country.

Under Kenyan law, individuals have the right not to have their personal information unreasonably requested or disclosed.

According to digital rights attorney Mercy Mutemi, Worldcoin can obtain the information it seeks through less intrusive means. If the purpose is to demonstrate that individuals are human, it is sufficient for them to simply appear. She stated that it is not necessary to use the most invasive methods to prove that individuals are human.

Worldcoin told sources that it chose Kenya as the first African country to introduce the platform due to the country's thriving tech sector and the fact that more than four million Kenyans already trade in cryptocurrencies.

It has also been released in several other nations, including Indonesia, France, Japan, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Several countries' data watchdogs have already stated that they are examining Worldcoin.