Home NEWS Local News Kindiki: Worldcoin is not registered as a legal entity in Kenya

Kindiki: Worldcoin is not registered as a legal entity in Kenya

Cryptocurrency project Worldcoin which was suspended by the government over data privacy concerns is not licensed.

Interior CS Kindiki Kithure in a joint statement with his Information Communication, and Digital Economy counterpart Eliud Owalo clarified that Worldcoin is only registered as a data controller and not a legal entity.

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This he said is pursuant to the Data Protection Act, 2019 and the Data Protection Registration of Data Controllers and Data Processors Regulation, 2021 (Registration Regulations)  which require, as one compliance obligation, that entities processing data should be registered with the Office.

“An application for a certificate of registration only signifies that the entity has complied with sections 18 and 19 of the Act and does not endorse an entity’s compliance with the Data Protection Act or its subsidiary regulations, nor is it a valid license for organisations to operate in Kenya or authorize the operations of an entity,” the CS said.

According to the preliminary statement read by National Assembly Majority Leader,  Kimani Ichungwa in Parliament on Thursday,  criminal investigations have commenced to establish the authenticity and legality of the activities of World Coin, the safety and protection of the data being harvested, and how the harvesters intend to use the data.

The project captured the attention of authorities after thousands of Kenyans started queuing up at registration centers this week to get free tokens worth Ksh 7000 in exchange for iris scans.

Kindiki said Worldcoin was issued with the registration certificate on April 18, 2023, after it provided the requisite documentation pursuant to the Data Protection Registration Regulations.

Preliminary investigations reveal that the entity has hired a company in Kenya called Sense Marketing to do the data capture for them.

The local representatives who are under probe by the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) have been identified as Emmanuel Otieno, in charge of operations and Ms. Rael Mwende the alleged Country Manager.

“Among the foreign nationals associated with Worldcoin, is a Mr. Poitr Piwowarczyk who is on record to have entered Kenya on several occasions, the last one being in June 2023 (Arrival – 11th June, 2023; Departure 25th June, 2023)” the statement says.

Kindiki says as a precautionary measure, the Immigration authorities have been directed to ensure that no persons whether Kenyan or foreign nationals associated with this entity leave the country without the clearance of the Director of Criminal Investigations in charge of the ongoing investigations.

Source of funds

The investigations will also cover any persons of interest who may be outside the territory of Kenya in accordance with relevant international procedures and protocols on Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) and the exercise of extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The Government further says is not aware of the source of funds adding that part of the multi-agency team mandate will be to investigate the source of the money being issued to the participants and the beneficiaries.

“The Government has commenced investigations to ensure that Worldcoin complies with the data collection, storage, and sharing principles. Immediate mitigation steps being undertaken are the constitution of a multi-agency team comprising of security, financial services and data protection agencies have commenced inquiries and investigations to establish the legality of the activities of Worldcoin, the safety and the protection of data collected with the aim to safeguard personal data and mitigate against any adverse practices” said Kindiki and Owalo.

The Statement follows concerns raised by MPs and a request for a statement made by Manyatta MP John Mukunji.

Suspension

It was further revealed that The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner commenced an assessment of the organisation in May 2022, and immediately suspended its operations for a period of 60 days to ascertain the lawful basis and safeguards adopted by Worldcoin.

The statement goes on to explain that the Office conducted a spot check on 24th May 2023 and once again raised concerns with the processing activities of the entity.

On 30th May 2023, a letter was done directing the immediate cessation of processing of sensitive personal data, namely: iris and facial data, of data subjects.

“The Office further directed that Worldcoin safely restrict processing any data that had already been processed and advise the Office of the safeguards placed on the restricted data” the statement adds.

Following the suspension, Worldcoin said it is planning to implement crowd-control measures and collaborate with the government before resuming work. It added that Kenyan regulations are adhered to.

It claims to be creating a new global “identity and financial network”.

“We are creating the world’s largest identity and financial network as a public utility, giving ownership to everyone. And establishing universal access to the global economy regardless of country or background,” a statement on the Worldcoin website reads.

All the activities of Worldcoin and any other entity that may be similarly
engaging the people of Kenya remain suspended until relevant public agencies certify the absence of any risks to the general public whatsoever.

 

 

 

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