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Kenya Launches Parliamentary Inquiry Into Controversial Worldcoin Project Following Shut Down

In a groundbreaking move, Kenya has initiated a parliamentary investigation into the contentious Worldcoin cryptocurrency project, just weeks after becoming the first nation to halt its activities within its borders. The newly formed ad-hoc bipartisan committee, consisting of 15 members, will delve into the intricacies of the project that brought iris-scanning technology into focus. Chaired by MP Gabriel Tongoyo, the committee draws its composition from various House committees, including those handling internal security, communication and innovation, and tourism.

The comprehensive investigation aims to unravel the complexities of Worldcoin’s activities, which gained immense popularity over the past month, leading up to its suspension. 

Within a timeframe of 42 days, the committee will closely examine the company’s high-ranking officials in Kenya, as well as officials from governmental bodies within the security and information and communication technology (ICT) ministries.

This probe extends to two Cabinet secretaries who hold pivotal roles in the controversy. The individuals at the heart of this issue are Kithure Kindiki, responsible for interior security, and Eliud Owalo, overseeing the digital economy.

Moses Wetangula, the speaker of the National Assembly, has directed both Cabinet secretaries to appear before the newly formed committee for inquiries rather than the parliament. The shift highlights the significance of the investigation in understanding the concerns surrounding Worldcoin’s activities.

Kindiki’s decision to suspend Worldcoin’s operations in Kenya was grounded in security apprehensions, prompting financial and security regulators to scrutinize the company’s practices. The suspension came after Worldcoin gained substantial traction in the East African nation, attracting thousands of participants for iris scans.

However, anecdotal evidence suggests that many of those involved in the project were unaware of its implications, enticed instead by the promise of 25 WLD tokens, equivalent to approximately KES 7,222 ($50).

The controversy further deepened with revelations that Worldcoin had disregarded a prior order to cease its iris scans. A recently disclosed letter from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) revealed that Worldcoin had been instructed to halt its scans three months earlier due to concerns over data privacy and consent issues. Despite the directive, the scans persisted, leading to further scrutiny.

The investigation gains added significance against the backdrop of Kenya’s political landscape, marked by a challenging 2022 election and subsequent economic instability.

As the nation grapples with economic hardships and tax hikes, the allure of free WLD tokens overshadowed potential reservations about the project.

While the Worldcoin project has garnered global attention, this parliamentary investigation aims to provide clarity into its practices and implications.

As the intersection of technology, finance, and privacy becomes a key consideration for nations worldwide, Kenya’s proactive approach to regulating such endeavors sets a notable precedent for other countries to follow.

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