After a moderate show on the first day of the Facebook Libra hearing, we take a look at matters raised and insights to possible outcomes of the sitting.
Day 1 involved a session between the Senate Banking Committee and Facebook. The social media giant was duly represented by David Marcus – Head of Facebook’s crypto wallets (Calibra) as he answered questions focused on privacy and trust concerns around the project.
Senator Jon Tester who kicked off proceedings, sought to know how Facebook intended to provide assurances against fraudulent purchases or loss of funds. To this enquiry, Marcus responded:
“We will do our best to resolve those types of issues and claims as quickly as possible.” The Senator emphasized, it is critical that you solve this before it goes live.
Next up, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio asked: “Do you really think people should trust Facebook with their hard-earned money? Marcus responded: “Facebook will have no special privilege” and was cut short as the Senator added “Mr, Marcus, you know better than that.”
Senator Brown then asked: “Is there anything elected leaders can say that will convince Facebook not to launch Libra?” Marcus responded,”If our country fails to act, we could soon see a digital currency controlled by others whose values differ radically from ours.”
The Committee Chairman Senator Mike Crapo then quizzed Marcus on Facebook’s decision to register the Libra in Switzerland; to this Marcus said “We would also register in the United States”; as he goes on to explain that the company had done so to first secure registration at the world’s global financial headquarters.
Marcus give assurances that social and financial data of individuals will be entirely separated and private.
Cryptocurrency critic Senator Elizabeth Warren, who first championed calls for this hearing asked about Facebook’s willingness to allow users move or port their data from the Calibra network. In her words “If a Facebook user wishes to use a wallet other than Calibra, will you make it easy to allow the export of other data.”
To this Marcus remarked: “Absolutely Senator.” Senator Warren however seemed unconvinced with his reply as she continued “What Facebook has really been good at figuring out is how to monetize people’s personal data…I am not reassured by your statement and I cannot see any reason right now why there would not be any data sharing between these platforms.”
Republican senator Martha McSally was however more vocal, as she said: “I don’t trust you guys. Instead of cleaning up your house you are launching into a new business model.” ; calling out Facebook for their data privacy issues.
In all, proceedings on the first day of hearing went smoothly, with positive comments by some senators on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
Libra’s next hearing (Day 2) between Facebook and the Senate Financial Services Committee, will take place later today (July 17). Stay tuned for more.