Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced tough questions from congressional officials on Wednesday as he faces heightened scrutiny by US regulators. He defended the ambitious project of his company to create a digital currency.
The Financial Services Committee of the House of Representatives hearing focused on the proposed currency Libra. Zuckerberg took the time to reassure lawmakers that he would not allow Facebook to move forward without the explicit approval of all US financial regulators.
Nevertheless, a number of committee members were not convinced.
Representative Maxine Waters, California Democrat, who chairs the Financial Services Committee, said the Libra cryptocurrency project on the social network was causing a lot of concern and argued that Facebook should perhaps be split up.
Republican Rep. Ann Wagner of Missouri asked Zuckerberg why several large companies had recently left the Libra project. The boss of Facebook, momentarily short of words, noted that it was a risky business .
Although the audience has been most interested in digital money, all of Facebook’s policies and behaviors, as well as its dominance of the market, are drawing the attention of the Congress. It was the first time Facebook’s boss had been in Congress since April 2018.
Society seems to be more angry with the public and elected officials lately, whether for messaging services that allow encrypted conversations, for its anti-competitive behavior, or for its refusal to remove bogus political ads or videos. falsified.
Representatives of both parties and key regulators – including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell – criticized Facebook’s plan to create the new digital currency. In particular, they point out that it could be used to carry out illicit activities such as money laundering or drug trafficking.
In written testimony in preparation for the hearing, Zuckerberg tried to reassure members of Congress that his company would not seek to evade financial regulation when it set up the Libra.
Facebook will “not participate in the launch of the Libra payment system anywhere in the world unless all US regulators approve it,” he said. This is a more affirmative statement than that made by Facebook leader David Marcus to Congress in July. Mr. Marcus had said that the company would “not activate the Libra until it fully resolved the regulatory issues and received the appropriate approvals.” Marcus is the developer responsible for the Libra project at Facebook.
Randy Correy is a reporter focusing on emerging markets. Before joining PGM, he worked as a freelance journalist in and around Boston, having been published by over 30 outlets including NPR, The Huffington Post, Salon, Truth out and VICE.com.