David Marcus, the architect of Facebook’s planned digital currency, got a bumpy reception on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, where members of the Senate Banking Committee joined the long line of public officials from around the world raising doubts about the project.
In a contentious hearing, most senators expressed incredulity at Facebook’s decision to launch such a big project while still caught up in a number of privacy scandals, though some pointed out that new payment systems could be helpful in a global economy.
Facebook’s recent history of data breaches hung over the hearing, with senators pressing Mr. Marcus about privacy and the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. They suggested Facebook should clean house before launching the new currency, named Libra. Mr. Marcus focused on the upside, saying Facebook was the right company to take on the project and that if it didn’t go for it, someone else would.
The senators didn’t appear convinced by that argument, and were probably not reassured when Mr. Marcus said Facebook hadn’t decided how much money to contribute to the association that is set to govern Libra. The association hasn’t finished drafting its rules, so there are still a lot of missing details of how the currency will work.
Committee chairman Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho, said after the hearing that Congress still had to figure out how to regulate cryptocurrencies, and decide which federal agency would govern Libra. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat from Ohio, accused Facebook of “deceit” when it said it is just one of many overseers of the Libra network.