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Maxine Waters Wasn't Kidding About Facebook Token Moratorium

Ben Bain
(Bloomberg) -- The powerful chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee is doubling down on her demand that Facebook Inc. hit the pause button on its ambitious cryptocurrency.Representative Maxine Waters said Tuesday that she’s pressing House leadership and other lawmakers to join her in requesting that the social media giant halt any development until Congress has a chance to review the token, known as Libra. The California Democrat added that Facebook hasn’t responded to her call for a moratorium, which she first made June 18.Read More: Waters Urges Libra Pause, as Facebook Gets Fresh Washington FuryFacebook’s announcement last week that it was developing a coin that could be used to buy goods and services triggered alarm among lawmakers, who are concerned about potential impacts on the global financial system and whether the company can protect consumers’ financial data. Facebook is already under fire in Washington for a series of stumbles, including major data breaches and allowing Russians to hijack its platform during the 2016 election to push President Donald Trump’s candidacy."It’s a huge idea about changing the system as we know it," Waters said of Facebook’s plans during a press conference on Capitol Hill. "We’re talking about privacy issues, the use of big data," she added.Congressional HearingsIn a statement last week, Facebook said it would address lawmakers’ concerns. David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the company’s cryptocurrency efforts, separately told Bloomberg News that he has been in touch with regulators and central banks in multiple countries.Facebook has been invited to testify at a July 17 hearing of the financial services panel, Waters said. She said such hearings need to happen as soon as possible so lawmakers can get a better understanding of the company’s plans for Libra. The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a hearing for one day earlier.Waters said she is also circulating a letter among House lawmakers to build momentum for a halt on Libra.Facebook, in an emailed statement Tuesday, said it looks “forward to next month’s House Financial Services’ hearing.” Bill Foster, a Democrat from Illinois on Waters’ committee, said at the press briefing that he had met with Facebook officials about the project and was skeptical that the token would launch next year as planned. He cited the lengthy registration processes that will likely be involved."Their actual timescale for launching this gives us time to react," he said. "When you look at the realistic timescale -- it’s not going to be next summer."(Adds Facebook statement in eighth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Bain in Washington at bbain2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net, Gregory MottFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

(Bloomberg) -- The powerful chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee is doubling down on her demand that Facebook Inc. hit the pause button on its ambitious cryptocurrency.

Representative Maxine Waters said Tuesday that she’s pressing House leadership and other lawmakers to join her in requesting that the social media giant halt any development until Congress has a chance to review the token, known as Libra. The California Democrat added that Facebook hasn’t responded to her call for a moratorium, which she first made June 18.

Read More: Waters Urges Libra Pause, as Facebook Gets Fresh Washington Fury

Facebook’s announcement last week that it was developing a coin that could be used to buy goods and services triggered alarm among lawmakers, who are concerned about potential impacts on the global financial system and whether the company can protect consumers’ financial data. Facebook is already under fire in Washington for a series of stumbles, including major data breaches and allowing Russians to hijack its platform during the 2016 election to push President Donald Trump’s candidacy.

"It’s a huge idea about changing the system as we know it," Waters said of Facebook’s plans during a press conference on Capitol Hill. "We’re talking about privacy issues, the use of big data," she added.

Congressional Hearings

In a statement last week, Facebook said it would address lawmakers’ concerns. David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading the company’s cryptocurrency efforts, separately told Bloomberg News that he has been in touch with regulators and central banks in multiple countries.

Facebook has been invited to testify at a July 17 hearing of the financial services panel, Waters said. She said such hearings need to happen as soon as possible so lawmakers can get a better understanding of the company’s plans for Libra. The Senate Banking Committee has scheduled a hearing for one day earlier.

Waters said she is also circulating a letter among House lawmakers to build momentum for a halt on Libra.

Facebook, in an emailed statement Tuesday, said it looks “forward to next month’s House Financial Services’ hearing.”

Bill Foster, a Democrat from Illinois on Waters’ committee, said at the press briefing that he had met with Facebook officials about the project and was skeptical that the token would launch next year as planned. He cited the lengthy registration processes that will likely be involved.

"Their actual timescale for launching this gives us time to react," he said. "When you look at the realistic timescale -- it’s not going to be next summer."

(Adds Facebook statement in eighth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Bain in Washington at bbain2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jesse Westbrook at jwestbrook1@bloomberg.net, Gregory Mott

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.