Congress says terrorists could use Libra, Zuckerberg passes the buck

Libra, the new digital currency launched by Facebook, has faced plenty of scrutiny since its announcement. With several U.S. congress people putting additional questions to the social media giant, Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, looked to shift some of the blame in a recent talk.

Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) director Kenneth Blanco appeared before the House Financial Services Committee on February 27, and faced questions about Libra from four congress people, CoinDesk reports. Representatives Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO), Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), Bill Foster (D-IL) and French Hill (R-AR) raised their concerns that Libra could be used to help finance terrorism.

Cleaver, concerned that Facebook has already served as a tool for terrorists, urged for more to be done as the platform becomes a financial system:

“Before we allow such a giant corporation to begin processing millions to billions of financial transactions, we have to study these issues and ensure we have the tools and guardrails in place to deter terrorists, extremists, and/or enemies from utilizing such a platform to do harm to our nation.”

The released details from the meeting did not indicate Blanco’s remarks regarding Libra, but he did face serious pressure from Cleaver to take the platform seriously.

The House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee are both scheduled to hold hearings regarding Libra in July. Assuming representatives from the organization show up for testimony, it should be a fascinating couple of days.

Meanwhile, Mark Zuckerberg was attending the Aspen Ideas Festival where he briefly commented on Libra. CNBC’s Fast Money tweeted a segment of his speech where he emphasized that Facebook doesn’t control Libra, but rather will be a founding member of hopefully hundreds behind the financial system.

This isn’t really an effort by Zuckerberg to be humble, Facebook has received the lion’s share of the attention after Libra’s announcement, despite several other large companies participating in the launch. Emphasizing that Facebook will only have one vote amongst the many companies participating helps shift the scrutiny and responsibility.

It’s doubtful that anyone is going to listen to this speech and not conclude that Facebook is the driving force behind the platform. Whatever happens with Libra, Facebook will be the first company regulators and the public look to congratulate or blame.

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