Facebook To Get Senate Panel Scrutiny Over Libra Project

Capitol Hill

Libra, the global cryptocurrency effort tied to Facebook, will be the focus of a Senate panel hearing next month, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Senate Banking Committee is slated to conduct a hearing on the project on July 16, and though no formal witnesses have been named, it is expected that David Marcus, who helms the social media giant’s blockchain activities, will testify before the panel. That expectation was set by an unnamed source, defined by the news outlet as someone in Washington “familiar with the matter.”

The panel is reportedly going to delve into Libra and data privacy considerations that may come in tandem with the effort, which is expected to launch in the fall of 2020.

The newswire also reported that Rep. Maxine Waters, the Democrat chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said earlier this week that she, too, will call on Facebook to testify before her committee. She also had asked the project be put on hold as lawmakers studied Libra.

Separately, and as reported in The Verge, the hearing will be entitled “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown, Democrat from Ohio and the ranking Democrat on the committee, said earlier in the week that “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.”

Rep. Waters said in a statement Tuesday that “given the company’s troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action.”

Facebook has said that the company “looks forward” to addressing lawmakers’ questions.