Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki revealed on Thursday that the Kenyan government is conducting a detailed forensic examination of the hardware components employed by the American Artificial Intelligence company, OpenAI, in its data collection efforts for the Worldcoin cryptocurrency project.
Kindiki made this announcement during his appearance before the Senate Ad Hoc committee, which is currently investigating the now-suspended crypto project.
According to the Interior Cabinet Secretary, forty-eight Orbs, electronic devices, and various items associated with the project were seized from Tools for Humanity agents. Tools For Humanity is a Germany-based global hardware and software company that initially spearheaded the development of the Worldcoin protocol.
Kindiki emphasized that national security agencies had also retrieved assorted documents and taken statements from twenty-six witnesses and other individuals of interest. These materials are currently under analysis. Kindiki assured the committee that the investigations would be expedited, taking into account public interest and national security concerns. Those found to be involved in wrongdoing would be prosecuted in accordance with the law.
The crypto project in Kenya was halted on August 2 due to concerns about data security, especially in light of the enthusiastic participation of Kenyans who used the Worldcoin Orb to verify their humanity against their online identities.
Kindiki expressed his skepticism about the safety of Worldcoin activities, given that the company had operated without government clearance. He stressed the importance of safeguarding citizen data, asserting that data sovereignty was a critical issue.
He stated, “Citizen data is a sovereignty issue. They harvested data here operating outside the law. I know I run the risk of being told I’m standing in the way of commerce, but as a security manager, I need to know who is behind any crypto, the source of their investment, and who is doing what because if we allow anything that will harm the people of Kenya, I will be asked.”
Last week, Tools For Humanity (TFH) revealed that they had been scanning people’s irises in Nairobi and other Kenyan urban centers since 2021 during the project’s pilot phase.
The Worldcoin project was launched globally on June 24 but faced privacy concerns and questions regarding the security of the biodata collected from Kenyan participants. Concerns were further heightened by the distribution of 25 free cryptocurrency tokens to new members after the verification process, valued at Ksh.8,256 at the time.
The Kenyan government has suspended all activities associated with the crypto project until relevant agencies can confirm the absence of security risks.
CS Kindiki assured the Senate committee that the government would ensure the data collected from Kenyan citizens is retrieved and recovered, with preliminary findings expected by September 30.