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Why Kenya halted Worldcoin eye scan and sign up

The Kenyan government has put a stop to the controversial startup that aims to create a new “human identity and financial network” through eye scans and its own cryptocurrency

Kenya was among the pioneer countries where Worldcoin, a controversial startup envisioning a novel "human identity and financial network" utilizing eye scans and its proprietary cryptocurrency, initially launched sign-ups. As of this week, Kenya stood out as one of the most significant markets for adoption. However, there are indications that Kenya might take the lead in outrightly banning the platform, becoming one of the first countries to do so.

The Ministry of the Interior in the country has issued a decisive decree, effectively suspending the enrollment of Worldcoin within its borders. The suspension comes from concerns regarding the authenticity and legality of the startup's activities in critical areas such as security, financial services, and data protection. This action applies to Worldcoin and encompasses any other entity engaged in similar practices involving the people of Kenya. The suspension will remain in effect until authorities ascertain that there are no risks to the general public.

Until today, Kenya boasted one of the most extensive networks of venues—comprising at least 18 locations, as reported in the company's directory last week—where individuals could visit an "Orb," the spherical and mirrored iris-scanners, to verify their World ID. However, due to the massive turnout that overwhelmed the Orb operators, only one venue has been listed. To cater to the thousands of people streaming in, the operators strategically shifted their stations on Sunday to Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), a larger ground in Kenya's capital.

“Relevant security, financial service and data protection agencies have commenced inquiries and investigations to establish the authenticity and legality of the aforesaid activities, and the safety and protection of the data being harvested, and how the harvesters intend to use the data,” said Kithure Kindiki, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for the ministry of interior and national administration.

In the UK, one of the countries where regulators are looking into Worldcoin's privacy and security, three venues were listed in London last week at launch. However, only one is operational. Regardless, Worldcoin registration is currently ongoing in 35 cities, and the company is on its way to crossing 3 million users after enrolling over half a million people in the last seven days.