On Wednesday, the Senate Banking Committee announced that it will be holding a hearing next month regarding Facebook’s new cryptocurrency called Libra.
The hearing, entitled “Examining Facebook’s Proposed Digital Currency and Data Privacy Considerations,” is set for July 16th, but the committee has yet to nail down who will be testifying. The plans come shortly after Facebook formally announced its new cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem, Libra. Facebook’s plan was met with harsh criticism from lawmakers, as well as calls for investigation into the potential consumer risks.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is the top Democrat on the committee and was one of the first lawmakers to question Facebook’s new product. “Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy,”Brown said yesterday.
“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.”
The senators’ colleagues in the House have also requested a hearing. Both Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-NC) called for Facebook to testify before the House Finance Committee, and Waters even asked that the company halt the development of the currency until Congress and regulators could investigate the potential privacy and financial risks.
“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,” Waters said in a statement yesterday.
“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.”
A Facebook spokesperson said “We look forward to responding to lawmakers’ questions as this process moves forward,” but did not agree to pause development on Libra.