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Regulation

U.S. lawmakers are calling for Facebook to halt Libra development

June 18, 2019, 5:27PM EDT

After U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, senior Republican on the House Financial Services Committee, asked for a hearing on Project Libra in a letter to committee Chairwoman, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters. Waters, a Democrat, has called for a halt in Facebook's development of its cryptocurrency.

Waters referenced previous controversy surrounding Facebook's data policies in her statement and called its foray into the cryptocurrency a market a continuation of its "unchecked expansion" into peoples' lives.

"Regulators should see this as a wake-up call to get serious about the privacy and national security concerns, cybersecurity risks, and trading risks that are posed by cryptocurrencies," she said in a statement. "Given the company's troubled past, I am requesting that Facebook agree to a moratorium on any movement forward on developing a cryptocurrency until Congress and regulators have the opportunity to examine these issues and take action."

Before Waters' response to McHenry's letter, McHenry said he was open to having Facebook directly testify to Congress, according to a spokesperson for the lawmaker. Now, Waters is asserting executives should testify before the committee.

Reuters' Pete Schroeder tweeted that McHenry's letter wasn't explicitly critical, but pointed out that a hearing could indicate skepticism from lawmakers.

"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," McHenry wrote.

Indeed, this isn't the first time lawmakers have taken an interest in a Facebook crypto. Before Libra was announced, the U.S. Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs addressed an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with questions on regulatory and privacy concerns if Facebook was pursuing a digital payment system for its platform.

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