7/16/2019 1:11:00 PM Facebook exec defends currency plan
WASHINGTON (AP) — Under withering criticism from senators, a Facebook executive today defended the social network giant’s ambitious plan to create a digital currency and pledged to work with regulators to achieve a system that protects the privacy of users’ data.
“We know we need to take the time to get this right,” David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the project, told the Senate Banking Committee at a hearing examining the plan. Anger over Facebook’s series of scandals, notably the opening of personal data of millions of users to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, boiled over as senators of both parties demanded to know why the company wielding massive market power should be trusted in this far-reaching project. The litany of criticism came as Congress began two days of hearings on the currency planned by Facebook, to be called Libra. Also Tuesday, a House Judiciary subcommittee was extending its bipartisan investigation of the market power of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple.
“Facebook is dangerous,” asserted Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, the committee’s senior Democrat. Like a toddler playing with matches, “Facebook has burned down the house over and over,” he told Marcus. “Do you really think people should trust you with their bank accounts and their money?”
Republican Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona said “the core issue here is trust.” Users won’t be able to opt out of providing their personal data when joining the new digital wallet for Libra, McSally noted. “Arizonans will be more likely to be scammed using Libra,” she said.
On the defensive from bursts of aggressive questioning, Marcus indicated the currency plan is a work in progress. “We will take the time” to ensure the network won’t be open to use by criminals and illicit activity like money laundering and financial fraud. “We hope that we’ll avoid conflicts of interest. We have a lot of work to do,” Marcus testified.