Kenya’s scepticism around the controversial Web3 project, Worldcoin, seems to be growing with each passing day. Over the weekend, Kenyan authorities reportedly raided the office of Worldcoin in Nairobi, only to confiscate all the stored information of the users who registered with the project. The development followed an official government order there, which suspended Worldcoin-related activities indefinitely, for the time being. The controversial project is the brainchild of Sam Altman, the founder of ChatGPT parent firm, OpenAI.
Officially launched on July 24, Altman’s Worldcoin project is aiming to create a network of ‘real humans’ and no robots. The San Francisco, US-based company is looking to assign ‘World IDs’ to global citizenry. Altman aims to give real humans a ‘global identity of personhood’, which will eliminate the need for them to reveal their personal details just to interact with websites. To do so, the project requires people to submit their eye scans as a biometric verification, which Worldcoin is obtaining via its own spherical machine, called the Orb.
As part of its raid, the Kenyan law enforcement officers have reportedly seized Worldcoin’s records and machines. The confiscated items have been taken to Kenya’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters for due analysis.
Tools for Humanity, the parent company of Worldcoin, has been accused of not disclosing its true intentions when it registered in Kenya. Immaculate Kassait, the commissioner of Kenya’s Office of the Data Protection, is overseeing the investigations.
The Kenyan authorities shifted its focus to Worldcoin after hundreds of people began queuing to get registered for the project since its official launch in July. All registered nationals have submitted their iris scans into the Orbs. Videos of them doing so have emerged on social media.
JUST IN: Kenya suspends Worldcoin over safety concerns.
Thousands of people have been lining up to scan their eyeballs in exchange for crypto. pic.twitter.com/jrv9CyzpL6
— Milk Road (@MilkRoadDaily) August 2, 2023
Ok, the main issue with World Coin is at this rate of turnout, somebody was disturbed why you can’t turn out like this to register to vote
Interior CS Kithure Kindiki Governor Sakaja Crazy Kennar Chira HELB Shakahola Russia Nairobi pic.twitter.com/c9oqYHQqTb
— MtotoWaPharao (@mtotowapharao) August 2, 2023
People who sign up for their World IDs are also eligible to claim the WLD token, which is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain-based project. In the backdrop of this ongoing Worldcoin controversy, the pricing of the WLD token dropped from $2.26 (roughly Rs. 187) on August 4, to $1.92 (roughly Rs. 158) on August 8.
Crypto founders and industry insiders remain sceptical of Worldcoin as well. Sathvik Vishwanath, Co-Founder and CEO of Unocoin crypto exchange, said the Worldcoin project raises “serious privacy concerns” over its collection of biometric data. “Although the project team, led by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, said Orb does not store user data, sceptics remained wary,” Vishwanath added.
Worldcoin has reached India as well. Several metro stations in and around the National Capital Region (NCR) and some spots in tech hub Bengaluru have Worldcoin booths with people queuing up for registrations.
Indian authorities have not yet joined France, Germany, and Kenya in opening probes against Worldcoin.