In context: Facebook just announced this week that it would be introducing a new crypto currency and wallet called Libra and Calibra respectively. Within 48 hours, Senate officials announced it would be holding a hearing looking into the proposal. The House of Representatives also vows to look into the matter.
The Senate Banking Committee announced on Wednesday that it would hold a hearing on Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency.
“Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations,” as it is called, will be held July 16 at 10am EDT and will be live streamed to the public via the Banking Committee’s website. Government officials began calling for an investigation of the initiative shortly after Facebook announced it earlier this week.
Obviously, with the social media giant’s recent battles over consumer privacy, Congress has reservations on whether it should be trusted to introduce new crypto to the market.
Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight. https://t.co/IjZOFNai3r
— Sherrod Brown (@SenSherrodBrown) June 18, 2019
The committee has not announced a list of witnesses to be questioned, promising to disclose that at a later date. Presumably, those close to the project will be in attendance. Indeed, sources told The Verge Libra and Calibra lead and co-founder David Marcus would be providing testimony.
Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, who initiated the probe tweeted Tuesday, “Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy. We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight. I’m calling on our financial watchdogs to scrutinize this closely to ensure users are protected.”
Reuters reports that the House Finance Committee is calling for hearings as well. Committee Chair Maxine Waters said that she believes work on the proposed cryptocurrency should be halted until officials have thoroughly investigated the matter.
“Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregard for the protection and careful use of this data,” Waters said in a statement. “With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users.”
Facebook plans to fully cooperate and provide testimony in the hearings but said it was not planning on halting development.