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Data Commissioner calls for vigilance amid Worldcoin craze


As the Worldcoin craze continues to hit many parts of the country, The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has called on citizens to be vigilant with the platform.

Worldcoin is a cryptocurrency token project co-founded by Sam Altman, co-founder of OpenAI and Alex Blanca. The project went live globally this week and has seen users flock to its orbs across different parts of the country to be issued one of the company’s tokens for free. However, users are only issued with the tokes once they approve that they’re actually humans and not robots.

The ODPC said in a statement ‘’…is aware that Worlcoin has now been launched and is processing sensitive personal data in a manner that requires demonstration of proper safeguards under the data protection Act, 2019’’  

Users visiting Worldcoin’s orbs have to download the World App, the company’s World ID-compatible app. The app according to the company enables payment, purchases and transfers globally using digital assets and fiat-backed stablecoins. Once downloaded, they can visit an Orb, the startup’s eyeball-scanning verification device, to receive their World ID. 

The company is describing this service as a “digital passport” that helps prove its holder is a real human, not an AI bot using its physical imaging device called the ‘Orb. 

This has however raised a lot of regulator concerns across different countries. In the UK for example, the company has come under the scrutiny of data protection regulators according to a report by Reuters.

In Kenya, ODPC says it’s conducting its assessment of Worldcoin’s practices to ensure compliance with the law.

‘’Kenyans are urged to ensure that they receive proper information before disclosing any personal or sensitive data,” it says.

San Francisco and Berlin-based company Tools for Humanity (TFH) is behind Worldcoin. While in beta, the project already had 2 million users. This number is expected to go up as the company plans to expand the service to other parts of the world.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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