Hundreds of thousands of Kenyans may have been exposed to health risks following iris scans by the foreign company Worldcoin, Kenya’s health minister told legislators Thursday.
Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumincha told a National Assembly committee the preliminary analysis of the scans showed exposure levels that could lead to future health complications.
“There may be Kenyans out there already experiencing different complications or changes in their bodies after undergoing the scan,” Nakhumincha said. “We urge them to report to the nearest health facilities for in-depth examination.”
Nakhumincha said the Health Ministry has prepared a draft digital health bill to address challenges posed by the evolving digital landscape.
Earlier, the director general of the Communications Authority of Kenya, Ezra Chiloba, told legislators Worldcoin was never registered as a company in Kenya, making its local operations illegal.
“The orb Worldcoin uses can transmit data abroad, making it a communication device, yet the authority did not approve it for use in Kenya,” Chiloba said. “We do not know how they attained approval to use these machines here.”
The Kenya International Conference Centre admitted failing to vet Worldcoin before leasing space to Exp Momentum, the company that sought the premises on the company’s behalf.
Documents tabled by KICC Chief Executive Officer Patricia Ondeng showed the grounds were leased for KES 441,180 within a day of the request by Evarline Adongo, a process legislators said was flawed given the speed of approval.
“We failed to conduct due diligence in understanding the nature of activities Worldcoin would undertake,” Ondeng said.
Committee chairman Gabriel Tongoyo said the revelations were alarming.
“It is clear Worldcoin took advantage of legal loopholes and laxity by our agencies to exploit Kenyans,” Tongoyo said. “We will get to the bottom of this.”
Hearings continue next week.