The Kenyan government says it has kicked off investigations into Worldcoin and its recent operations in the country.
The Ministries of Interior, National Administration, and ICT jointly issued a statement indicating that it has been established that Tools for Humanity, Worldcoin’s parent company, is not a legally registered entity in Kenya.
The government says the foreign company outsourced its data capture services to a local firm, now known as Sense Marketing, which was tasked with collecting iris data from Kenyan citizens in exchange for cryptocurrency tokens valued at approximately Sh. 7,000.
“Criminal investigations have commenced to establish the authenticity and legality of the aforesaid activities, the safety and protection of the data being harvested, and how the harvesters intend to use the data,” read the joint statement by Interior CS Kithure Kindiki and his ICT counterpart Eliud Owalo.
On Wednesday, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) brought in two Worldcoin company officials from Kenya for questioning. Emmanuel Otieno, identified as the Head of Operations, and Rael Mwende, the company’s Country Manager, are now assisting with investigations into the company’s structure and operations.
The State also noted that it has instructed immigration authorities to prevent Worldcoin officials from leaving the country without DCI’s approval.
“As a precautionary measure, the Immigration authorities have been directed to ensure that no persons whether Kenyan or foreign nationals associated with this entity leaves Kenya without the clearance of the Director of Criminal Investigations who is in charge of the ongoing investigations,” the ministers added.
The State also mentioned that the investigation will include individuals involved in the matter who are based outside the country, utilizing the procedures outlined in the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) protocol. MLA is a process through which two or more countries cooperate and assist each other in legal matters, particularly in the investigation and prosecution of criminal offenses.
Furthermore, the government says the cautionary statements issued to Kenyans by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) were a response to the discovery that Worldcoin had not conducted any public participation exercise before commencing its operations in the country.
“The Government has commenced investigations to ensure that Worldcoin complies with the data collection, storage and sharing principles. Immediate mitigation steps being undertaken are the constitution of a multi-agency team comprising of security, financial services and data protection agencies [which] have commenced inquiries and investigations to establish the legality of the activities of Worldcoin, the safety and the protection of data collected with the aim to safeguard personal data and mitigate against any adverse practices,” noted the statement.
“The Government is not aware of the source of funds. Part of the multi-agency team mandate will be to investigate the source of the money being issued to the participants and the beneficiaries of this activity.”