On Tuesday, Facebook finally unveiled more details about its cryptocurrency, Libra, which the company plans to launch in early 2020. That same day, lawmakers called for scrutiny of Facebook’s plans and even requested a moratorium.
Lawmakers highlighted concerns over trusting Facebook with what’s essentially a global currency, given its frequent privacy scandals. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who currently chairs the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, said, according to The Verge:
“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. 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.”
However, Democrats aren’t the only ones coming forward with concerns about Facebook’s plans. Before Waters issued a statement, Reuters reported, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) wrote to her, requesting a hearing on Facebook’s new plans.
“We know there are many open questions as to the scope and scale of the project and how it will conform to our global financial regulatory framework,” McHenry wrote, according to The Verge. “It is incumbent upon us as policymakers to understand Project Libra. We need to go beyond the rumors and speculations and provide a forum to assess this project and its potential unprecedented impact on the global financial system.”
There’s no solid plans for a hearing right now, but it’s not out of the question. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg was previously forced to testify before Congress regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also joined in on calls to check Facebook. Brown, who is a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, tweeted that Facebook has already used its power to “exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy.”
Lawmakers in the United States aren’t the only ones raising concerns. Politicians in the European Union — where privacy laws are much stronger, thanks to the General Data Protection Regulation — have spoken up too.
France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, told radio station Europe 1 that Facebook could build its payment system. However, the idea of Libra becoming a “sovereign currency” is “out of the question.”
German member of the European Parliament, Markus Ferber, said Libra could make Facebook a “shadow bank,” which should “set off alarm bells for regulators.”
There are numerous issues with Facebook’s Libra already, including its proposed intentions to help the underbanked without actually articulating how a cryptocurrency would do that.
With lawmakers across the world speaking out, it seems that Facebook will have a long fight ahead before it’s allowed to launch Libra.