The government is currently conducting a forensic examination of the hardware components used by the American Artificial Intelligence company, OpenAI, in its data collection efforts from Kenyan citizens for the Worldcoin cryptocurrency project. Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki made this announcement on Thursday during his appearance before the Senate Ad Hoc committee, which is investigating the now-suspended cryptocurrency project.
The security minister reported that forty-eight Orbs, electronic devices, and various items associated with the project were seized from Tools for Humanity agents. Tools For Humanity is a global hardware and software company based in Germany that played a leading role in the initial development of the Worldcoin protocol.
Prof Kindiki stated, “National security agencies have also obtained various documents and recorded statements from twenty-six witnesses and other individuals of interest, which are currently under analysis. The investigations will be expedited, taking into account public interest and national security concerns, and those found responsible will be prosecuted in accordance with the law.”
The cryptocurrency project in Kenya was halted on August 2 due to concerns about data security, especially as Kenyan citizens were using the Worldcoin Orb to scan their eyeprints as proof of their identity for online purposes.
Kindiki expressed his reservations about the safety of Worldcoin’s activities, emphasizing that the company was operating without government clearance. He stated, “Citizen data is a matter of national sovereignty. They collected data here without adhering to the law. While I acknowledge the potential economic benefits, as a security manager, I need to have full visibility into the operations of any cryptocurrency, its sources of investment, and its activities. If we allow anything that could harm the people of Kenya, we will be held accountable.”
Last week, Tools For Humanity (TFH) disclosed that they had been scanning people’s irises in Nairobi and other Kenyan urban areas since 2021 when they were piloting the project. Sam Sadle, the Head of Government Relations and Public Policy at TFH, informed the committee of their activities in various locations in the city.
The Worldcoin project was launched worldwide on June 24 but faced privacy concerns and questions about the security of the biodata collected from Kenyan citizens. The fact that new members were receiving 25 free cryptocurrency tokens after the verification process added to these concerns, as the tokens were valued at Ksh.8,256 at the time.
The government has suspended all activities related to the crypto project until relevant agencies can confirm the absence of security risks. CS Kindiki assured the Senate that the data collected from Kenyan citizens would be retrieved and secured, promising the committee, “By September 30th, we will provide an initial report from this investigation that can satisfy the committee’s inquiries.”