A high court in Nairobi on Saturday issued a directive ordering cryptocurrency project Worldcoin and its partners to halt the processing of any new biometric data in Kenya until a pending case against the company is formally heard and adjudicated. This injunction comes in response to a grievance lodged by the Kenya Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) alleging that Worldcoin had amassed substantial volumes of personal information in contravention of Kenya’s data protection law.The presiding judge also issued a mandamus order to the respondents, compelling them to securely destroy all accumulated data under the supervision of the DPC. Furthermore, the court handed down an order requiring the DPC to revoke the first and second respondents’ registration certificates as data controllers. This is in response to claims of misrepresentation and non-disclosure in breach of Section 19 (2) of the Data Protection Act, as well as Regulations 5 and 16 of the Data Protection (Registration of Data Controllers and Data Processors) Regulations, 2021.In early August, the government suspended all Worldcoin operations, citing data protection concerns and the overall legality of the project. Echoing the same concerns, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner advised citizens against engaging with the identity cryptosystem, citing Worldcoin’s failure to adhere to specified data protection measures mandated by the Data Protection Act.The DPC has raised concerns about Worldcoin’s storage of biometric data, including iris scans. Individuals can receive around $60 in the cryptocurrency Worldcoin if they provide an iris scan. The DPC has said this practice “borders on inducement.”Worldcoin responded to JURIST by stating that:The demand for Worldcoin’s proof of personhood verification services in Kenya has been overwhelming, resulting in tens of thousands of individuals waiting in lines over a three-day period to secure a World ID. Out of an abundance of caution and in an effort to mitigate crowd volume, verification services have been temporarily paused. During the pause, the team will develop an onboarding program that encompasses more robust crowd control measures and work with local officials to increase understanding of the privacy measures and commitments Worldcoin implements, not only in Kenya but everywhere. Worldcoin remains committed to providing an inclusive, privacy-preserving, decentralized on-ramp to the global digital economy and looks forward to resuming its services in Kenya while working closely with local regulators and other stakeholders.Parallel to these developments, Kenya’s National Assembly has formed a parliamentary committee comprising 15 lawmakers to undertake a thorough investigation of Worldcoin’s activities. The committee is to submit its findings to Parliament by September 28, 2023.

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