After waiting so long for any session of congress to have bipartisan consensus, the American public saw the U.S. Senate open a hearing today with tough questions and criticisms of Facebook’s ambitious plan to create a financial eco-system based on a digital currency called Libre with both parties in agreement. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio led the charge by the Senate Banking Committee outlining some of the consequences of too much and too little Facebook censorship including genocide.
Brown said, “But look what has happened everywhere that Facebook has run its social experiments on us. Their motto has been move fast and break things. They certainly have. They moved fast and broke our political discourse. They moved fast and broke journalism. They moved fast and helped incite a genocide. They run … they moved fast and they’re helping to undermine our democracy. Now Facebook asks people to trust them with their hard-earned paychecks. Takes a breathtaking amount of arrogance, a breathtaking amount of arrogance to look at that track record and think ‘You know what we really ought to do next? You know what we ought to do next? Let’s run our own bank and our own for-profit version of the Federal Reserve and let’s do it for the whole world.'”
According to a November 2018 BBC article, Facebook agreed with a report that found the platform slow and ineffective at preventing the proliferation of online hatred being used to incite offline violence when the Burma military launched a violent crackdown where thousands of people died and more than 700,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh. With widespread allegations of human rights abuses, including arbitrary killing, rape and burning of land, the Rohingya are seen as illegal migrants and have been discriminated against by the government and public for decades, which the U.N. said may amount to genocide. Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho questioned Facebook official David Marcus about U.S. oversight given their plan to base the project in Switzerland.
Crapo said, “Do you agree with me that the United States should lead in establishing the rules of the road and the legal oversight of Libra and similar digital currency initiatives?” Marcus said, “Chairman thank you for your question. Yes absolutely. I agree that the U.S. should lead. And I want to reaffirm that we chose Switzerland not to evade any responsibilities of or oversight but rather because it is a well established international place with headquarters for WHO (World Health Organization), WTO (World Trade Organization) and even the BIS (the Bank of International Settlements). And despite the fact that the Libra association will be headquartered in Switzerland, it will still register with FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and as a result, will have oversight from U.S. regulators.”
Finally, last week on Twitter, the president weighed in and wrote, “I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity. Similarly, Facebook Libra’s “virtual currency” will have little standing or dependability. If Facebook and other companies want to become a bank, they must seek a new Banking Charter and become subject to all Banking Regulations, just like other Banks, both National and International. We have only one real currency in the USA, and it is stronger than ever, both dependable and reliable. It is by far the most dominant currency anywhere in the World, and it will always stay that way. It is called the United States Dollar!”
Includes reporting from the BBC and the Associated Press