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Worldcoin founder clarifies reasons for pausing registrations in Kenya

Worldcoin co-founder Alex Blania has explained that the company has paused World ID verifications in Kenya while working with local regulators to address their questions.

This decision comes after the Kenyan government expressed concerns over the organization’s activities involving the registration of citizens through the collection of eyeball/iris data.

Kenyans lineup for Worldcoin registration. PHOTO WILFRED NYANGARESI

Also read: Data colonisation? Why Worldcoin targets poor countries

Cabinet Secretary for the Interior and National Administration, Kithure Kindiki, issued a statement on August 2, 2023, expressing the government’s concern and the need for upfront assurances regarding public safety and the integrity of financial transactions.

Following this, relevant security, financial services, and data protection agencies initiated inquiries and investigations to ensure the authenticity and legality of Worldcoin’s activities and the safety of the harvested data.

As a precautionary measure, CS Kindiki suspended the registration exercise, stating that appropriate action would be taken against anyone engaging in similar activities to those described by Worldcoin.

“The suspension will remain in effect until relevant public agencies certify that there are no risks to the general public,” CS Kindiki said.

In response to the suspension, Worldcoin executives emphasized that World ID is built for privacy.

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

They expressed their commitment to resuming operations while working closely with local regulators and stakeholders to enhance crowd control measures and increase understanding of their privacy measures in Kenya and beyond.

The team aims to develop a more robust onboarding program to manage the crowds efficiently because “the demand for Worldcoin’s proof of personhood verification services in Kenya has been overwhelming” prompting the temporary pause to “mitigate crowd volume”.

During the pause, the team will develop an onboarding program that encompasses more robust crowd control measures and work with local officials to increase understanding of the privacy measures and commitments Worldcoin implements, not only in Kenya, but everywhere.

“Worldcoin remains committed to providing an inclusive, privacy-preserving, decentralized on-ramp to the global digital economy and looks forward to resuming its services in Kenya while working closely with local regulators and other stakeholders,” the statement read in part.

Worldcoin was co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Alex Blania, and Max Novendstern, and it seeks to provide an inclusive, privacy-preserving, decentralized on-ramp to the global digital economy.

Also read: Confusion hits Ruto’s Cabinet Secretaries over Worldcoin’s recruitment drives