Worldcoin returns to Kenya after police drop investigations


An attendant opens a customer's QR code while registering members of the public to the new Worldcoin cryptocurrency at KICC Nairobi on August 1, 2023.

Photo credit: Wilfred Nyangaresi | NMG

Cryptocurrency firm Worldcoin will soon be resuming registration of users in Kenya after the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODDP) directed the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to drop a probe into allegations that the firm illegally collected and transferred users, personal data.

Kenya suspended Worldcoin activities in August last year and opened an inquiry aimed at establishing the safety of the data that was being harvested at the time.

In a letter dated June 14 to Coulson Harney, the law firm acting for Worldcoin, the DCI said the chief prosecutor had ordered that the file be closed with no further police action.

“The DCI expeditiously and objectively investigated an array of allegations into the activities of Worldcoin in Kenya in 2022/23 and touching on alleged unlawful collection and transfer of personal sensitive data,” the letter seen by this publication reads in part.

“The resultant investigation file was forwarded to the ODPP for an independent review and advice. Upon review of the file, the DPP concurred and directed that the file be closed with no further police action”

Worldcoin is being rolled out by Tools for Humanity, a company co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

"We are grateful for the DCI's fair investigation and for the Director of Public Prosecutions' determination to close the matter," Thomas Scott, chief legal officer at Tools for Humanity, said in a statement quoted by Reuters.

The dropping of the probe comes barely three months after Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki revealed to the National Assembly’s Committee on Public Petitions that Kenya was under pressure from the US government to lift the suspension of Worldcoin’s activities, vowing at the time that he would not budge.

“The United States has been pushing the government on the issues of Worldcoin, but we have remained adamant and firm,” he told the committee in March.

“They (the US) think that they (Worldcoin) still have a case to set up their activities here. We have remained adamant and the decision we took will remain. We are not going to review the suspension.”

At the onset of its Kenyan operations, Worldcoin required users to provide their iris scans in exchange for digital identification and free cryptocurrency known as the Worldcoin token.

Days before its suspension, the Capital Markets Authority had warned of the emergence of potential fraudulent schemes involving cryptocurrencies, before the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) followed it up with an advisory urging Kenyans to heighten their vigilance.

PAYE Tax Calculator

Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.