Facebook’s Libra project could already be in trouble with European regulators. As first reported by Bloomberg, The European Commission is looking into potential antitrust violations by the new digital currency.
According to documents shared with the outlet, The EU is “currently investigating potential anti-competitive behavior” by the Libra association. They also fear the association will unfairly shut out rivals.
The anti-trust fears come from “possible competition restrictions,” and specifically in how information will be exchanged, and how user data will be used. One of the competition restrictions the commission is specifically investigating is how Libra will be integrated into Facebook owned applications, like WhatsApp and Messenger.
A spokesperson for the commission noted they are “monitoring market developments in the area of crypto assets and payment services, including Libra and its development.”
The potential for Libra pushing out competitors, especially on Facebook owned platforms, is obvious. However, with recent concerns around Facebook’s handling of user data coming to light, data protection is becoming an increasingly huge concern. It came to light in early August that Facebook was outsourcing user audio data to third party firms, a practice they defended as an attempt to improve transcription services.
That news, along with Facebook’s history of mishandling their users data, has European regulators worried about the social media giant’s “vast reserves of personal information with financial information and cryptocurrency, amplifying privacy concerns about the network’s design and data-sharing arrangements.”
The Libra Association have repeatedly promised they will not roll out in countries where they have not addressed regulators concerns. David Marcus, CEO of Facebook’s Calibra wallet project, made that promise to U.S. lawmakers when they grilled him over the many concerns they have with Facebook’s attempt to privatize global currency.
This combined pressure from the U.S., EU, and other world regulators has made Facebook a little hesitant to make any more Libra promises. In a July filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook admitted that they can no longer offer a solid timeframe of when Libra would launch, and hinted it may never see the light of day.
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