A prominent US lawmaker on Tuesday called on Facebook to pause development on its new cryptocurrency and for company executives to testify before Congress, Reuters reports.
Echoing widespread concerns about what the digital currency could mean for data privacy and security, Maxine Waters said Facebook should halt development of the product, dubbed Libra, until Congress and regulators can review the issue, the report said.
The lawmaker, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, called on Facebook officials to testify before Congress to answer queries related to the cryptocurrency project.
“Facebook has data on billions of people and has repeatedly shown a disregard for the protection and careful use of this data,” Waters was quoted as saying in a statement.
“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.”
Her comments came after Representative Patrick McHenry, the senior Republican on her panel, also sought a hearing on Facebook’s new initiative.
A Facebook representative said the company looks forward to answering lawmakers’ questions.
“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,” Senator Sherrod Brown, the top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee, said in a statement.
Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who also sits on Senate Banking Committee, expressed concern that through Libra, Facebook was using its scale in social networking to achieve dominance in adjacent markets like mobile payments.
French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for more regulation of tech companies.
“This instrument for transactions will allow Facebook to collect millions and millions of data, which strengthens my conviction that there is a need to regulate the digital giants,” he said in an interview on Europe 1 radio.
But Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said he had an “open mind” on the potential utility of the product, while warning it could face strict regulation.
Facebook has engaged with regulators in the United States and abroad about the planned cryptocurrency, company executives said. They would not specify which regulators.
Switzerland’s financial watchdog said it was in contact with the initiators of the Libra project but declined to comment on whether it was obtaining specific regulatory permission or status.
Markus Ferber, a senior German lawmaker in the European parliament, said in a statement that Facebook’s new coin should put “regulators on high alert” and called on the European Commission to start work on regulatory framework for virtual currencies.
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