Kenya stated on Wednesday that it was halting the use of the iris-based Worldcoin cryptocurrency until inquiries into “the security and protection of data” amassed by the company are conducted.
The government stated that it had launched investigations “to establish the authenticity and legality of the activities, the security and protection of the data collected, and how the collectors intend to use the data” because it was concerned about Worldcoin’s activities that involved registering citizens through the collection of eyeball and iris data.
The Worldcoin system, which was introduced by Sam Altman, OpenAI CEO at the end of June in Germany, is also being looked into by European regulators, particularly in France and Germany.
Two million people registered during the test phase of Worldcoin’s initiative, which took three years to build, to receive a digital passport called a “World ID.” Some 1,500 “orbs” will be deployed worldwide to enable millions of other users to sign up, according to the Worldcoin website.
According to reports on Tuesday, thousands of people lined up in Nairobi’s main conference center and commercial malls to have their irises scanned in exchange for virtual currency worth 7,000 shillings (45 euros). Most people subsequently sold their “tokens” again right away. The value of the token, initially $1.70, jumped to $3.58 before falling back to $2.37, according to CoinMarketCap.
Kithure Kindiki, the Cabinet Secretary of Interior and National Coordination said that relevant security, financial services, and data protection agencies have started investigations to establish the authenticity and legality of the firm, the safety and protection of the data being harvested, and how the harvesters intend to use the data.
Why the Eye Scans?
The World App serves as a kind of entry point to an increasing number of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications. Users may be certain that they are communicating with others who have also been independently verified to be human thanks to this feature. Users can join networks with a significantly lower chance of so-called Sybil attacks, in which a single user establishes numerous pseudonymous accounts to acquire control in a virtual system, by having a WorldID and World App.
The World App can also store a constrained number of various crypto tokens. Users can store Bitcoin, Ethereum, and USDC through their World Apps as of their debut.
Worldcoin aims to develop into a kind of blockchain-based digital passport that would allow users to authenticate themselves online without disclosing any private information. Users must submit to an iris scan via an “orb,” a biometric technology created by Worldcoin, to receive this sesame.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the Kenyan Ministry of Home Affairs said it was “immediately suspending Worldcoin activities until the relevant government agencies certify the absence of any risk to the public.”
Worldcoin has not yet reacted to the suspension.