Kenyan MPs Demand Shutdown of Worldcoin’s Crypto Venture in Kenya
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A Kenyan parliamentary panel has issued strong recommendation for the immediate shutdown of Worldcoin’s cryptocurrency project within Kenya.
In a significant development, a Kenyan parliamentary panel has issued a strong recommendation to the country’s information technology regulator, urging the immediate shutdown of Worldcoin‘s cryptocurrency project within Kenya.
The move comes in response to mounting concerns over privacy and the need for more robust regulations governing such initiatives.
Previously, the Kenyan government took the initial step of suspending the Worldcoin project in early August due to widespread objections regarding its controversial practice of scanning users’ irises in exchange for a digital ID, aiming to establish a new “identity and financial network.” Even after the August suspension, Worldcoin continues to maintain a virtual presence in Kenya, accessible via the Internet.
Worldcoin, an initiative rolled out in several countries worldwide by Tools for Humanity, a company co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has reportedly faced scrutiny not only in Kenya but also in Britain, Germany, and France.
Mounting Concerns Over Data Protection
The parliamentary panel, comprised of 18 lawmakers, recommended the Communications Authority of Kenya to take immediate action. It called for the “disabling of virtual platforms of Tools for Humanity Corp and Tools for Humanity GmbH Germany (Worldcoin), including blacklisting the IP addresses of related websites.”
Additionally, the panel has requested the suspension of the companies’ “physical presence in Kenya until a legal framework for the regulation of virtual assets and virtual service providers is established.” The panel’s comprehensive report is slated for presentation at the National Assembly, where it will be considered and potentially adopted at a later date.
During the suspension of data collection in August, authorities raised concerns about the Worldcoin project’s methodology for obtaining consumer consent, which involved offering a monetary award of slightly over $50 at that time.
Critics argued that this approach bordered on inducement, and registering for the platform required individuals to endure long queues for iris scans. The parliamentary panel’s investigation further revealed potential issues related to the scanning of minors’ eyes, as there was no age-verification mechanism during the process, according to the report.
Furthermore, the panel called upon various government ministries to expedite the development of regulations governing crypto assets and companies providing cryptocurrency services. Additionally, they urged the police to launch an investigation into Tools for Humanity and to take any necessary legal action in this matter.
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