Kenya sticks to Worldcoin suspension despite US pressure

Kenya’s Minister of Interior and National Administration, Kithure Kindiki, has stated that the country will not comply with the United States government’s request to lift the suspension on Worldcoin’s operations. The Kenyan government imposed the suspension in August 2023 due to concerns about the safety and integrity of financial transactions. Professor Kindiki explained that the suspension will only be lifted once assurances are given regarding the security of these deals. He also revealed that Kenya has faced pressure from the US government to revoke the suspension.

The decision to suspend Worldcoin’s activities was announced by Kenya’s Minister of Internal Security on Facebook on August 2. The government wants relevant public agencies to confirm that there are no risks to Kenyans before the suspension is lifted. The main concern is that Worldcoin collects personal identification information, including iris scans, in exchange for a digital ID. Nearly three weeks after the suspension, a parliamentary committee, headed by Member of Parliament Gabriel Tongoyo, was formed to investigate the controversial crypto project.

Worldcoin gained popularity in Kenya as hundreds of people registered for the program by scanning their irises using the company’s Orb device and receiving 25 WLD tokens in return. The value of these tokens was approximately 7,700 shillings ($54.60) at the time. In addition to the parliamentary committee, the court suspended Worldcoin’s activities after the data commissioner’s office filed a lawsuit. The court ordered that all data collected by Worldcoin between April 2022 and August 2023 be preserved until the lawsuit is resolved.

The Worldcoin project was launched on July 24, 2023, after three years of development. It was co-founded by Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, the company responsible for the well-known AI chatbot ChatGPT. Worldcoin aims to address the growing difficulty of distinguishing between humans and AI as AI technology advances. The startup has created a digital ID system based on proof-of-personhood, which involves scanning an individual’s iris to generate a World ID.

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