Worldcoin Troubles Heat Up As Kenyan Lawmakers Accuse Founders Of Data Fraud

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Amid the implementation struggles of crypto project Worldcoin in Kenya, Worldcoin CEO Alex Blania has been accused by the Kenyan lawmakers of data fraud saying the project’s arrival to Kenya looks like “a gang of criminals who are coming to harvest data from young people.”

Worldcoin Faces Scrutinization From Kenyan Lawmakers

Kenyan lawmakers and authorities continue to scrutinize the controversial Worldcoin project in the country, resulting in Worldcoin CEO Alex Blania having to answer to lawmakers on Wednesday, September 6, 2023. Blania’s questioning comes amidst the suspension of Worldcoin activities in the country by the Kenyan government on August 2, 2023.

The CEO had to appear before the Kenyan parliamentary ad hoc committee, a 17-member committee set up by the Kenyan government to investigate the operations of the American-based cryptocurrency firm Worldcoin, to respond to allegations of illegal operations and data mining in the country.

The project sparked concerns in the country when the Kenyan authorities discovered that it was not officially registered and over 350,000 Kenyans had signed up for Worldcoin and scanned their eyeballs with the project in exchange for free $49 worth of WLD tokens valued 7000 Kenyan shillings. 

However, CEO Alex Blania responded to these allegations claiming that the project has been connected with the Kenyan’s Office of the Data Commissioner Immaculate Kassait since April 2022, having the firm registered as a data controller, not a limited company.

In addition, he stated that the firm was under no obligation to get registered under Kenyan laws, so the firm had to work with local partners who had that obligation.

Blania further defended the project saying Worldcoin is solving a critical challenge on the internet: proof-of-personhood and that the project had abided by all the country’s data and registration requirements.

“We wish to emphasize the Worldcoin project’s long-term commitment to Kenya. Our commitment to the people of Kenya is genuine, and we have at all times endeavored to operate honestly, compliantly, and above all, transparently,” Blania opined. “All the personal and biometric data collected in Kenya is securely stored on servers either in the US, Italy, Germany, Poland, or South Africa.”

Worldcoin’s chief legal officer Thomas Scott also told the Kenyan parliamentary ad hoc committee that Worldcoin was not mining data from Kenyans for malicious activities after the committee implied that worldcoin was duping Kenyans into surrendering critical identifying information without guarantees on the use and security of the data collected.

However, Kenya’s regulator has given the firm a one-year ban, and the company only be allowed to operate again once it undergoes a security audit, allows the government access to the collected data, registers with the Business Registration Services (BRS), and establishes a local representative.

Worldcoin (WLD) price chart from Tradingview.com

WLD token price falls to $1.04 | Source: WLDUSDT on Tradingview.com

Worldcoin’s Iris Scans Sparked Health Risk Fears

As is widely known, Worldcoin uses iris-scanning orbs to capture and verify an individual’s unique biometric data. However, earlier this month, Kenya’s health Secretary Susan Nakhumicha Wafula warned that Kenyans who took part in iris scans for tokens are potentially exposed to health risks.

Susan told her fellow lawmakers that initial inquiries found the company’s iris scanning technology potentially exposed hundreds of thousands of Kenyans to health risks. 

She further added that there may be Kenyans out there already experiencing different complications or changes in their bodies after undergoing the scan. Therefore, she recommends that individuals seek medical help if they develop any abnormal conditions.

Following the revelation, one X user stated that he was shocked to hear that Kenyans who took part in the iris scans are experiencing health problems because he was scanned in October last year and he experienced zero health issues.

I am shocked to hear that Kenyans who had their eyeballs scanned by Worldcoin are experiencing health problems. As someone who was scanned in October last year, I have no idea what that woman is talking about. I thought she would say that next grant should at least be 10 coins!

— Ja Loka (@_fels1) September 1, 2023

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency project that aims to create a network of users who verify their humanness and proof of personhood to eradicate bots or AI algorithms to build the world’s largest human identity and financial network. The project was founded by ChatGPT’s founders Sam Altman and Alex Blania.

Featured image from The Block, chart from Tradingview.com

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