Two weeks ago, she issued a warning that Facebook must put its Libra digital currency on hold so lawmakers and regulators can consider whether it’s a new threat to consumers and the global economy. Yesterday Calibra’s CEO David Marcus said that they will not go forward until they have addressed all concerns and met the regulatory bar and oversight bar that is needed for this network to operate the right way.
Yesterday, she opened the hearing with an indictment of Facebook’s past behavior. In her statement, Waters said that there was a, “demonstrated pattern of failing to keep consumer data private on a scale similar to Equifax.” Waters added that Facebook, “allowed malicious Russian state actors to purchase and target ads,” which purportedly influenced the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
One of the loudest was senator Brad Sherman who said that Facebook’s proposed Libra cryptocurrency “may do more to endanger America” than the September 11th terror attacks that killed almost 3,000 people. He also yelled he wants Zuckerberg “on this chair”.
Waters distributed this idea during a House Financial Services Committee hearing and later confirmed it is something the Democrats on the committee plan to pursue. She said:
“The absolute public request was made today by Mr. Sherman. I’m taking that up. We’ll have hearings, we’re going to continue to have investigations, we’re going to get Zuckerberg here.”
She said that the first thing Zuckerberg could tell them is – why did Facebook came up with this idea altogether.
“I think this is Facebook in its effort to broaden its influence and its power and to make more money.”
She added that her staff has not made the formal request with Facebook yet, but they plan to do so.
Waters also said that she thinks Marcus “skirted” several of the questions he was asked and warned the inquiry has only just begun. She said:
“It’s a huge idea, it’s a global idea, and we don’t know what it is. Is it a bank? Is it a payment system? Is it a system that transmits money? We don’t know what it is so we’ve got to find out what it is. We have to ask a lot of questions, do a lot of investigation.”
However, she expressed extreme lucidity saying that she believes the committee should bring in technologists and experts on the topic of cryptocurrency.
Most of the congressmen were worried about regulatory framework and Waters seems to agree that this Facebook’s move should be a wake-up call to regulators, who should closely examine the “privacy and national security concerns, cybersecurity risks, and trading risks that are posed by cryptocurrencies.”
Chairwoman Waters’ sentiment was also shared by Rep. Patrick McHenry, a member of Waters’ Committee, as was communicated in a letter to the former this morning.
“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.”
Facebook said it does not have a comment on whether Zuckerberg would testify. It is within the committee’s power to vote to subpoena Zuckerberg if he did not want to come before Congress.