Alex Blania, the co-founder of Worldcoin, has affirmed his readiness to collaborate with Kenyan authorities to address concerns about his company’s practices. Technext reported that Kenya, through its Cabinet Secretary of Interior, Kithure Kindiki, suspended Worldcoin operations in the country. The Secretary justified the move by citing public safety issues.
Blania issued a statement regarding the issue on X (formerly Twitter). He posted that “TFH has paused World ID verifications in Kenya as we continue to work with local regulators to address their questions. We apologize to everyone in Kenya for the delay.” He concluded by reiterating that World ID, the digital passport that allows holders to authenticate their identity while remaining anonymous, is “built for privacy.”
Beyond public safety issues, Kindiki said relevant Kenyan authorities had begun investigating Worldcoin to ascertain its legality. He also mentioned that efforts to determine how WorldCoin intends to use user data were underway.
For context, WorldCoin offered interested citizens crypto tokens worth $49 (Sh 7,700) in exchange for their iris scan. This contentious trade didn’t seem to deter Kenyans as they flooded the Kenyatta International Convention Center to participate in the exercise.
Yesterday, Makau Mutua, the spokesperson for Kenya’s opposition, Azimio, enjoined the William Ruto-led administration to retrieve the iris scans already obtained by Worldcoin. Mutua added that those who agreed to the scan were gullible and poor.
Life for the average Kenyan has become increasingly difficult, thanks to new taxes and rising cost of living. Based on Mutua’s theory, the current economic situation is causing citizens to ignore data privacy concerns.
Two days ago, Technext reported that the country’s inflation rate dropped for the second consecutive month. And while this was caused by a fall in the prices of some food items, the recent hike in public transport prices persisted.
Why Worldcoin suspension in Kenya should enlighten other African countries
The internet hosts several articles documenting the rise of technology and its potential impacts on society. While many benefits exist, the cons shouldn’t be ignored.
Before commencing operations in any country, it’s expected that a company obtains approval from the appropriate authority. Aside from this being the standard practice, it enables the government to effectively regulate the activities of such companies to avoid any issues.
Unfortunately, many African countries have struggled to keep up with the constant movements of technology. Early this week, South Africa considered introducing a licensing scheme for streaming platforms like Netflix and Disney Plus. It said licensing became necessary as its existing laws are outdated.
Before giving Worldcoin an earful for not securing approval, one must also ask whether there are appropriate regulations to help the government oversee the company’s operations. If there aren’t any, now’s when the government should introduce them.
As Kenyan regulators and Worldcoin continue their collaboration to clear doubts about the latter’s practices, one expects citizens to also be made aware of how their data will be used. This should deter other companies from launching activities in a country without getting the go-ahead from the authorities.
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