Libra, Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency, encounters its first major challenge this week. David Marcus, who’s spearheading the Facebook initiative, will testify before the US Congress to answer questions about Libra’s design, privacy measures, and potential impact on the US economy.
Here’s how to follow along.
Senate Banking Committee hearing
When: July 16 (Tuesday) at 10am ET
Watch here: The committee website
The Senate will get first crack at Libra, and judging by the testimony Marcus shared ahead of the hearing, privacy will probably be a contentious subject.
He highlighted a Swiss authority as “privacy regulator” for the Libra Association, the nonprofit organization that will oversee the Libra network and the crypto’s underlying reserves. For Calibra—Facebook’s crypto wallet service, which he runs—Marcus noted that the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will have oversight powers.
Despite these assurances, senators should probably pay special attention to the financial section of Marcus’ testimony. He writes, “[E]xcept in limited circumstances, such as preventing fraud or criminal activity and complying with the law, Calibra will not share customers’ account information or financial data with Facebook unless people agree to permit such sharing.”
Policymakers may also want to ask what data Calibra could share with Facebook, how that information could be used, and whether customers would need to opt in or out of data sharing.
House Financial Services Committee hearing
When: July 17 (Wednesday) at 10am ET
Watch here: YouTube
The Democratic majority which leads the House Financial Services Committee is considering a proposal to prevent Facebook and other big tech companies from offering financial services or digital currencies. Marcus will face some of Libra’s fiercest critics, including committee chair Maxine Waters, a Democrat who has called for a moratorium on Libra’s development.
The House hearing will also feature a second panel with additional expert witnesses—some who might be more optimistic, and others who are clearly apprehensive about Facebook’s crypto project.