Facebook has been grilled today at a Senate Banking Committee hearing over its cryptocurrency project Libra. As part of the hearing, a representative for the social media giant claims the firm has been in contact with a Swiss agency to oversea data protection and user privacy.

However, it has emerged that the firm has not been in contact with the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) at all.

Senate Hearing Casts Doubt on Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Efforts

The head of Facebook’s cryptocurrency project, Libra, stated during today’s US Senate Committee hearing that the firm had secured a partnership with Swiss authorities to help deal with issues relating to data protection and privacy:

“For the purposes of data and privacy protections, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) will be the Libra Association’s privacy regulator.”

However, according to a report in CNBC, the FDPIC has had no contact whatsoever with the social media company. The publication reportedly contacted the agency for comment on their work with Libra. Hugo Wyler, the FDPIC’s head of communication, responded:

“We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra.”

He went on to state that the agency is expecting contact from Facebook soon with the “concrete information” necessary for the agency to provide legal advice and supervision. Wyler added that the FDPIC was following the ongoing public debate into the social media company’s financial ambitions.

CNBC reports that, when contacted, a Facebook spokesperson said the company was yet to contact the Swiss agency. The publication also took the liberty of contacting the other Swiss agency named by Marcus earlier today. The Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority (FINMA) confirmed that the company was indeed in contact with them with regards its cryptocurrency project.

Facebook’s Libra has dragged issues surrounding Bitcoin and other crypto assets right to the front of policymakers’ discourse since it was detailed in June. Last week, President Donald Trump expressed his distaste for the the cryptocurrency  industry via Twitter and also warned Facebook that it would need to seek out relevant banking licences if it wanted to offer the kind of services it detailed last month.

A common critique that has reemerged since the likes of Trump and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently started commenting on cryptocurrencies is that all they do is enable crimes such as money laundering and drug dealing. However, some more astute lawmakers finally seem to realise that the technology could represent a threat to US global hegemony.

Facebook currently plans to launch Libra in 2020. However, given the amount of regulatory backlash Facebook has been faced with since it was first detailed, this date seems overly optimistic now.


Related Reading: US Committee Plans to Ban Facebook Cryptocurrency Libra

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