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Kenya Suspends Eyeball-Scanning Crypto Project Worldcoin

Kenya Suspends Eyeball-Scanning Crypto Project Worldcoin
A Worldcoin poster.

Kenya’s interior ministry has suspended the activities of Worldcoin in the East African nation, as local authorities probe the possible security and data protection risks associated with the eyeball-scanning cryptocurrency project.

“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,” Interior Secretary Kithure Kindiki said in a statement on Wednesday.

Worldcoin — which launched last week — is an effort to create a global network of digital identities by using a small device called an “orb” to scan people’s eyeballs. That identity, or World ID, grants its holder “proof of personhood” in the Worldcoin parlance. Users are rewarded for participating with Worldcoin tokens.

More than 2 million people have signed up for a World ID so far, reflecting the novel compensation model and the reputation of one of its founders, Sam Altman, the chief executive officer of OpenAI, which created the popular ChatGPT chatbot service.

Read More: Why Worldcoin’s Digital ID Gambit Draws Fans, Critics: QuickTake

In addition to the digital ID, some Kenyans received 7,000 shillings ($49) in cash incentives and crypto tokens, which drew thousands more to recruitment centers, local outlet Citizen Media reported on its website.

Kenya’s Capital Markets Authority said that Worldcoin products are not regulated in the country and advised people to be “wary of potential fraudulent schemes that may emerge in the over-the-counter market of crypto tokens,” according to an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Worldcoin did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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