CS Owalo Discloses Who Approved Worldcoin Operations in Kenya

September 12, 2023

ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo has disclosed that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) granted Worldcoin permission to operate in Kenya.

Owalo, while testifying before the parliamentary Ad-hoc committee investigating Worldcoin’s activities in the country, noted that the commission’s office was fully cognizant of the fact that Worldcoin had not complied with data protection regulations.

The Cabinet Minister also disclosed that agents tasked with gathering data on behalf of Worldcoin had not been registered with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

CS Owalo at the same time voiced his concern that Worldcoin started data collection in Kenya in May 2021, but the commission only became aware of this a year later.

“It is a matter of profound concern, even to us at the Ministry that while Worldcoin started collecting data in public places in May 2021, this fact only became known to ODPC in April 2022, and to the Ministry and other Government officials towards the end of July 2023, after this became a matter of grave public concern,” said Owalo.

“This speaks to surveillance needs of broader concern, going far beyond what any institution could do in isolation.”

CS Owalo said his ministry will be proposing amendments aimed at enhancing the regulatory framework for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

“It is clear from the provisions of the Data Protection Act that the framework for corporate governance for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is weak. The office of the ODPC is an independent state office as described under article 260  (q) of the Constitution. The Act does not provide for a Board, or a similar authority, to which the Data Commissioner reports or accounts in its daily operations,” he said.

Adding: “To address this issue of governance, we will be proposing amendments along the models of Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) created under the Kenya Information and Communications Act, 1998 or the Media Council of Kenya (MCK).”

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