State seeks orders to protect data collected by Worldcoin


Kenyans queue at KICC Nairobi on August 1, 2023, to register for the Worldcoin cryptocurrency.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | Nation Media Group

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has moved to court seeking the preservation of data collected by the cryptocurrency project Worldcoin.

The Data Protection Commissioner wants the High Court to order the preservation of the data collected, pending the conclusion of a probe.

The agency has sued Worldcoin, which is registered as Tools for Humanity Corporation, alongside Tools for Humanity GmbH and Sense Marketing Limited.

Mr Oscar Otieno, the Deputy Data Commissioner in charge of complaints, investigations and enforcement, says in an affidavit that a review of Worldcoin revealed that the processing of personal data does not adhere to the law.

“That the court be pleased to issue a preservation order to the respondents and its agents, representatives and employees, preserving all data and sensitive personal data collected from Kenyans and Kenyan residents pertaining the operations of the project from April 19, to August 8, 2023,” Mr Otieno said in an affidavit filed in court. The Data Protection Commissioner has expressed misgivings that the firm’s agents are storing personal data in their database where it is vulnerable to loss, modification, deletion, transfer or further processing in contravention of the Act.

Worldcoin says on its website that the project is aimed at establishing universal access to the global economy regardless of country or background. It is designed to become the world’s largest human identity and financial network, giving ownership to everyone, the cryptocurrency said. Despite being ordered to cease data collection, Mr Otieno said, Worldcoin continued to process data until the government intervened.

“The government has suspended forthwith activities of Worldcoin and any other entity that may be similarly engaging the people of Kenya until relevant public agencies certify the absence of any risks to the general public whatsoever,” Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki said in a statement.