Kenya: Worldcoin Denies Malicious Intent as Kassait Revokes Contested Registration

6 September 2023

Nairobi — Worldcoin has denied mining data for malicious and monetary purposes even as the Data Commissioner Immaculate Kassait moved to revoke a registration certificate the State Law Office said was issued irregularly.

Tools for Humanity, which is the parent firm of Worldcoin Project, told the National Assembly Adhoc Committee investigating their operations that iris biometrics were the most scalable and fraud-resistant approach that also preserved privacy.

"For the avoidance of doubt, Worldcoin does not and never will involve the collection or selling of data," Tools for Humanity Chief Executive Officer Alex Blania said on Wednesday.

"No one - not even Tools for Humanity - can link biometric data to World ID. Further, the majority of the internal schematics and technical details of the technology are publicly available on the internet for everyone to review," he said.

Worldcoin's response came even as it emerged the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) had revoked its certificate of registration issued in June 2022.

ODPC issued the notice of cancellation Tuesday evening according to Worldcoin's chief legal officer Scott Thomas.

"ODPC revoked our certificate yesterday evening and no doubt this is of interest. They provided four reasons for the cancellation and we respectfully think that cancellation was outside the normal process and the correct underlying facts," Thomas said.

The American firm pleaded with the committee to investigate the matter and lift the suspension of their activities which it said had impeded its operations in the country.

"We want to request that the committee investigates this matter with a view of creating regulations, the company prays that the committee finds that Worldcoin did not engage in any wrong doing, we pray that the suspension be lifted with the necessary legal and regulatory oversight," Blania noted.

Forensic investigation

Tools for Humanity sought to dispel the fears over the status of the security of the data which is stored in Amazon servers based in the United States.

"Unfortunately, nothing on the market provided sufficiently detailed iris images and the required level of security. As a result, we set out to develop a new and sophisticated hardware device, which became the Orb that you are now familiar with," Blania noted.

The Orb operators, devices deployed to capture iris data, currently under forensic investigation by the Director of Criminal Investigation, collect data by scanning one's iris and the picture is converted into a unique iris code.

Tools for Humanity said it erased all images and the iris code sent to a secure server outside of the country.

Worldcoin transfered all data collected from persons in Kenya before the halting of Worldcoin operations to South Africa, the European Union (Germany, Italy and Poland) with iris code stored in the United States.

MPs also pressed Tools for Humanity to explain why it failed to register as a business entity before embarking on data mining activities.

The firms Chief Legal Officer, Scott Thomas told MPs that since April 2022 they were operating under the legal requirement as data controllers.

Thomas explained that Cabinet Secretary for ICT Eliud Owalo had moved to allay any concerns that Tools for Humanity was operating outside the confines of the law.

"We subsequently engaged with the office of data commissioner and secured registration certificate as data controllers, as late as 2nd august this year CS Eliud Owalo said that we were operating within the law," he said.

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