Data Commissioner issues an advisory against Worldcoin


Data Protection Commissioner Immaculate Kassait at a past event on March 29, 2023. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) has called for heightened vigilance from members of the public as they continue to engage with digital identification platform Worldcoin, an entity engaged in processing activities of iris data via an orb scanner.

Users are being issued with one of the company’s tokens for free once they prove that they are not robots. The value of the tokens is currently not clear.

The platform was unveiled on Monday with at least two million users worldwide signing up during the trial stages.

In a statement on Friday, ODPC said that it was aware that Worldcoin had been launched in the country and that it was processing sensitive personal data in a manner that required demonstration of proper safeguards under the Data Protection Act, 2019.

“As the ODPC conducts 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,” reads the statement in part.

“Individuals are advised to thoroughly inquire about how their data will be used.”

Worldcoin is a new project by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman where users are required to provide their iris scans in exchange for a digital identification and free cryptocurrency called Worldcoin token.

The Worldcoin project assigns people who sign up a digital ID which it says will help distinguish humans from artificial intelligence (AI) programmes online.

The founder says the eye-scanning is necessary for a future in which distinguishing between humans and robots becomes increasingly challenging due to a surge in AI technology.

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