David Marcus, Facebook’s top executive on the Calibra project, sat before the United States Senate Banking to testify regarding the company’s plan to work with some 27 other firms to launch what will instantly become a global currency.
However, the hearing was adjourned at the end of a session where virtually all the Senators showed skepticism regarding the possibility of Facebook being in charge of an extensive database of customer information.
The skepticism, according to Senators, is based on Facebook’s past involvement with sharing fake news during the 2016 presidential campaign, and allegations that they lobbied news agencies to avoid sharing sensitive information about their operations.
With those shortcomings in perspective, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown described Facebook as a toddler that plays with matches. He outrightly said that the company would wreak 'havoc' and told fellow lawmakers,
“Their motto has been move fast and break things. They certainly have. We’d be crazy to let them experiment with peoples’ bank accounts.”
Senate Banking Committee Chairman, Mark Crapo said on his part that Facebook’s Libra attempt presents added reasons for lawmakers to give users real control over their data. Such authority, according to him, would prevent companies like Facebook from misusing this data despite their massive reach and influence within the global community.
Senator Kennedy meanwhile began his second round of questions by stating that “Facebook is not really a company anymore, but a country.” He asked whether there is “any data Facebook has on its customers that in principle it wouldn't monetize?"
In response, Marcus said that for Facebook, it's not about making money but satisfying customers first as they’ve done with their messaging apps, which is yet to be monetized.
Meanwhile, as in his initial testimony, Marcus stressed throughout the hearing that Facebook would be only one of the 100 entities operating Libra, meaning that people do not necessarily have to trust them. He also reiterated their commitment to work with regulators before rolling out the project and also that Calibra would not share user data with Facebook Inc.
In the end, Senators were given until July 23 to prepare and submit further questions regarding Facebook’s planned digital currency and privacy data concerns. David Marcus, on his part, was asked to reply to those questions as promptly as he can when it arrives.