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Confusion hits Ruto’s Cabinet Secretaries over Worldcoin’s recruitment drives

The recent large-scale recruitment of Kenyans into the cryptocurrency world through Worldcoin has ignited a heated debate among cabinet members, with data security being the central issue dividing them.

The registration process for Worldcoin saw a massive turnout of thousands of Kenyan residents eager to be part of the cryptocurrency system.

However, as the excitement grew, concerns over data security started to emerge, especially when it became apparent that many individuals who had their iris scanned had limited knowledge about the entire process.

On Wednesday morning, Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy (ICT), Mr Eliud Owalo, addressed the matter during an interview on NTV.

He stated that the government was aware of the Worldcoin exercise and that his office would release a comprehensive statement in collaboration with the Office of Data Protection Commissioner later in the day. The statement aimed to outline the measures to safeguard Kenyans’ privacy, even as they voluntarily provided their details to Worldcoin.

Also read: Data colonisation? Why Worldcoin targets poor countries

Mr Owalo expressed concern about the potential exploitation of Kenyan citizens, given that Worldcoin claimed to collect data voluntarily.

He stressed the importance of protecting Kenyans from abuse or misuse of their personal information.

However, just hours later, Interior Cabinet Secretary, Professor Kithure Kindiki, issued a conflicting statement, suspending the registration process immediately.

He emphasized that the government needed to thoroughly investigate the security of Kenyan’s data before proceeding.

Foreign Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua also supported the suspension, emphasizing the need to protect Kenyans from being used as “guinea pigs” by foreign companies.

While acknowledging the importance of financial compensation, Dr. Mutua urged citizens to question the scanning of their eyes and the gathering of personal information. He encouraged people to consider the implications not just for themselves but also for future generations.

Also read: Explainer: What is worldcoin and why is everyone buzzing about it?

Prior to these statements from cabinet members, Kenyan lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui raised concerns over data security.

He had already communicated his apprehensions to the Office of the Data Commissioner. The lawyer argued that Section 31 of the Data Protection Act had not been adhered to, as it requires a data protection impact assessment before any processing operation likely to result in a high risk to individuals’ rights and freedoms. The Act also stipulates that the Data Commissioner must be consulted in such cases.

As the debate continues, the government faces the challenge of balancing the potential benefits of cryptocurrency with safeguarding citizens’ personal information, ensuring data privacy, and complying with data protection laws.

The public remains eager for clarity and reassurance regarding the security of their data in the midst of the ongoing recruitment exercise.

Also read: Government suspends Worldcoin registration in Kenya