House panel to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency project

House panel to hold hearing on Facebook cryptocurrency project
© Aaron Schwartz

The chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee announced Monday that the panel will hold a hearing next month on Facebook’s plan to develop a cryptocurrency-based payments platform.

The Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on Facebook’s Project Libra on July 17, Chairwoman Maxine WatersMaxine Moore WatersWaters rips Trump, GOP over mail-in ballots: 'They'll lie, cheat and steal to stay in power' CDC director says he wasn't involved in decision to reroute COVID-19 hospitalization data Overnight Defense: Pompeo pressed on move to pull troops from Germany | Panel abruptly scraps confirmation hearing | Trump meets family of slain soldier MORE (D-Calif.) announced Monday afternoon. The Senate Banking Committee will hold its own hearing on the social media giant’s crypto project the previous day.

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David Marcus, the co-creator and leader of Project Libra, is expected to testify at the hearings, according to sources. A Facebook spokesman declined to confirm who would attend the hearing, but said in an email "We look forward to responding to lawmakers’ questions as this process moves forward."

Facebook triggered bipartisan alarm last week when it announced a plan to develop its own payments system based on a cryptocurrency supported by more than two dozen major corporations, including Uber, Mastercard, Spotify and Coinbase.

The cryptocurrency project would be operated by the non-profit Libra Association and separate from the social media platform, according to Facebook. But Facebook’s recent string of privacy breaches, federal penalties and immense power has spurred concern across the political spectrum.

Waters called on Facebook to suspend Project Libra until lawmakers and regulators had a chance to weigh in and grill company executives. Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryCheney battle raises questions about House GOP's future Hillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers House Republicans urge Trump to take action against Chinese hackers targeting coronavirus research MORE (R-N.C.), the Financial Services panel’s top Republican, echoed those concerns in a request for a hearing on Project Libra’s “potential unprecedented impact on the global financial system.”

The leaders of the Senate Banking Committee also expressed qualms about Project Libra, and have previously grilled Facebook on its privacy practices. 

The panel’s chairman, Sen. Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoTop GOP senator urges agencies to protect renters, banks amid coronavirus aid negotiations Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill Senate panel advances Trump Fed nominee who recently supported gold standard MORE (R-Idaho) scheduled a hearing on the project last week for July 16. And ranking Democrat Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownOvernight Defense: Guardsman to testify Lafayette Square clearing was 'unprovoked escalation' | Dems push for controversial Pentagon nominee to withdraw | Watchdog says Pentagon not considering climate change risks to contractors Democrats urge controversial Pentagon policy nominee to withdraw Chamber of Commerce, banking industry groups call on Senate to pass corporate diversity bill MORE (D-Ohio) blasted Facebook for running “a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight.”

Updated at 4:25 p.m.