Kenyan authorities raid Worldcoin warehouse in Nairobi under search warrant
The Kenyan government has suspended Worldcoin's operations in the country and launched an investigation into its data collection and storage methods.
Kenyan authorities raided a Worldcoin warehouse in Nairobi on Aug. 5 under a search warrant over concerns that the company’s data collection practices may not adhere to privacy laws in the country, according to local media reports.
The police confiscated various documents and machines believed to store the data collected by the company through its iris-scanning “orbs” that were launched in late July. The confiscated material was taken to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations for further analysis.
The Kenyan government suspended Worldcoin’s operations last week due to security concerns. Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki led the suspension.
Data Commissioner Immaculate Kassait told local media that Worldcoin’s parent company — Tools for Humanity — had not disclosed its “true intentions” during registration.
Kenyan law protects individual citizens’ data privacy rights and mandates that no personal information be revealed or required unless necessary. Worldcoin gathering biometric data in return for cryptocurrency does not qualify as necessary under the country’s rules.
Meanwhile, the Kenyan Capital Markets Authority said Worldcoin is not regulated in the country and is concerned about people registering their data with the company.
Worldcoin told local media that it cooperates with the government and plans to resume operations after implementing “crowd-control measures.”
Kenya is the latest in a list of countries that have raised concerns over Worldcoin gathering people’s biometric data in return for cryptocurrency.
Worldcoin has clarified that it does not store the data once the orbs generate a unique iris code. The images taken to create the iris code are deleted within the orb without ever being moved.
According to Worldcoin’s website:
“The Orb is equipped with a powerful computing unit to run several neural networks concurrently in real-time. This enables it to validate a person’s humanness locally on the device, without needing to send, upload or save images. Similarly, a person’s iris code, or a mathematical representation of the iris texture, is generated locally on the Orb as well.”
This has not been enough to allay the worries of regulators and privacy advocates, who believe a more thorough examination of the technology would be a prudent measure.
Despite the regulatory hurdles in multiple jurisdictions, Worldcoin has seen demand for its “global ID” and token almost doubled since its launch.