The US House of Representatives, the country’s lawmakers, are becoming more insistent about halting the progress of Facebook’s entry into the cryptocurrency market with its Libra token. It has sent one letter, and now another to Facebook’s executives, calling for a halt to development of the token.
Maxine Waters, a Republican congresswoman was the first to call for a moratorium on Libra while lawmakers investigated it. Now four other members of Congress have joined her in sending a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, who must by now dread the arrival of couriers. They have also sent the letter to Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg and Calibra CEO David Marcus.
The letter alleges the Libra system, which was registered in Switzerland a few months ago, is intended to rival U.S. monetary policy and the dollar. It says, “This raises serious privacy, trading, national security, and monetary policy concerns for not only Facebook’s over 2 billion users, but also for investors, consumers, and the broader global economy.”
The lawmakers also claim the system could become “an under-regulated platform for illicit activity and money laundering.” They say that these concerns arise from he lack of detail in the Libra white paper.
And, to further justify their concerns, they refer to the Cambridge Alanlytica scandal in which the political consulting firm accessed Facebook user data to influence voting behaviour in the 2016 election. This has remained a bone of contention since then. Furthermore, the representatives point to the fact that Facebook removed 2.2 billion fake accounts in the first quarter of 2019, and indicate their general scepticism about cryptocurrencies, referring to the amounts stolen by hackers.
These are their key reasons for calling a halt to the Libra project and asking the Facebook executives to participate in Senate and House hearings. This didn’t go very well the last time Zuckerberg and Co were asked to testify in Washington, and they are apparently similarly reluctant this time.
According to sources none of the three that received the letter have yet responded (perhaps it got lost in the mail?) and Zuckerberg has stayed pretty quiet since he received a letter in May with questions about Libra. It does seem that David Marcus may appear at hearings about Libra on 16th and 17th July, but whether Zuckerberg and Sandberg will appear is another matter.
Of course, they are easy targets in one respect. If Congress is feeling tetchy about cryptocurrency and regulations around it, then targeting Facebook, which is already a business giant is easier for them, or perhaps makes more sense to them, than pulling in Vitalik Buterin of Ethereum.
But here’s the thing; just wait till Congress finds out they can’t send letters to Bitcoin!