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‘Policy, regulation gaps to blame for Worldcoin activities’ – CS Owalo

Monday, September 11th, 2023 20:26 | By
CS Eliud Owalo
CS Eliud Owalo. PHOTO/Parliament of Kenya/Facebook

Cabinet Secretary for Information, Innovation and the Digital Economy Eliud Owalo has blamed Worldcoin activities in Kenya to policy and regulation gaps.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee of Inquiry into the matter, Owalo revealed that concerned government agencies were made aware of Worldcoin activities more than a year after it started registering Kenyans.

“It is a matter of profound concern to us, that while Worldcoin started collecting data in public places in May 2021, this fact only became known to the ODPC in April 2022, and other government agencies thereafter towards the end of July 2023, after this became a matter of grave public concern,” Owalo stated.

"I do not have any information that due diligence was undertaken in the registration and approval of the activities of Worldcoin and its subsidiaries in this operation."

The CS called on MPs to do a policy and regulations review to address emerging and potentially disruptive technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain technologies including cryptocurrencies.

“As far as personal data under the Data Protection Act, 2019, is concerned, requirements for due diligence in the registration of data processors or controllers are weak. There is need to strengthen provisions on due diligence before, during, and after their registration,” he added.

According to Owalo, in the current legal setup, once registered, companies such as Worldcoin are not required to report on their activities to the government.

“There is need to create a periodic reporting mechanism for data controllers and processors, which then will determine their eligibility for renewal of registration upon expiry of their registration certificates, after the two-year period of validity,” Owalo added.

The CS says that he has set up a team to review policy and legal regulatory framework in the ministry and requisite reforms.

"However, I have set up a Working group on sectoral reforms to review the entire Policy, Legal Regulatory Framework in the Ministry and requisite reforms to address gaps and align to the new realities in our operating environment,” Owalo stated.

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