Worldcoin Nairobi Warehouse Raided by Kenyan Police: Reports

The project failed to reveal its true intentions when it registered in the country, authorities say.

AccessTimeIconAug 7, 2023 at 10:36 a.m. UTC
Updated Aug 9, 2023 at 1:57 p.m. UTC

Kenyan police raided the Nairobi warehouse of Worldcoin on Saturday, confiscating documents and machines, local news organizations reported Monday.

Immaculate Kassait, commissioner of Kenya's Office of the Data Protection, said Tools for Humanity, the parent company of Worldcoin, failed to disclose its true intentions when it registered in Kenya, according to media reports. Police took Worldcoin data to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations headquarters for analysis, the reports said.

Worldcoin was co-founded by Sam Altman, the tech entrepreneur who is CEO of OpenAI, the company behind popular artificial-intelligence tool ChatGPT. Worldcoin aims to promulgate a new way to verify that a user is human and unique on the internet using iris scans, artificial intelligence and zero-knowledge proofs. Verified users can receive grants of the Worldcoin token. Developers can build applications on top of this identification protocol and include a wallet where the Worldcoin token is distributed.

After the project's launch in July, users could receive airdrops of the Worldcoin token in exchange for being scanned. It is now facing trouble in Kenya.

"The officers backed by multi-agency officials went to the offices along Mombasa Road armed with a search warrant and broke in Saturday before leaving with machines they believe stores data gathered by the firm," media outlet Kahawatungu reported.

The raid was reportedly conducted under Kussait's supervision. A representative of the Office of Data Protection Commissioner, or ODPC, told CoinDesk he was unaware of any such operation.

Last week, the Ministry of the Interior suspended the project’s operations in the country, even as Kenya's minister for the digital economy, Eliud Owalo, said the ODPC had been in contact with Worldcoin as far back as April and had concluded that its activities comply with Kenya's data-protection laws. Later in the week, however, the ODPC issued a statement saying that after a preliminary review, it found "a number of legitimate regulatory concerns" around the project. Authorities in the U.K., France and Germany are also looking into the project.

Worldcoin didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Worldcoin's token (WLD) was unchanged over 24 hours at $2.07, data on CoinMarketCap shows.

UPDATE (Aug. 7, 2023, 11:01 UTC): Adds detail throughout.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.

Eliza Gkritsi

Eliza Gkritsi is a CoinDesk contributor focused on the intersection of crypto and AI.