Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be back in Washington to testify before the House Financial Services Committee about Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra on Wednesday, October 23. You’ll be able to watch Zuckerberg’s testimony today live in the player above starting at 7 a.m. PT.
Zuckerberg is set to be the sole witness in a U.S. House Committee of Financial Services hearing, titled “An examination of Facebook and its impact on the financial services and housing sectors.” Lawmakers from both parties are expected to grill him over the proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, and digital wallet, Calibra. There’s been a bipartisan consensus that Facebook having its own currency is a bad idea, with both Republicans and Democrats — not to mention President Donald Trump — attacking the plan since its inception in the summer.
According to written testimony released on Tuesday, Zuckerberg is expected to defend Libra as an essential method of giving banking tools to “more than a billion people around the world who don’t have access to a bank account, but could through mobile phones if the right system existed.”
Wednesday’s session will focus on whether Libra would operate as a direct rival to the U.S. dollar and if it poses any privacy, trading, national security, or monetary policy concerns. At a July hearing, the committee drafted the “Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act” bill to stop Facebook from developing its own currency.
???? Zuckerberg has landed on Capitol Hill pic.twitter.com/9KoFXRbbrh
— Cristiano Lima (@viaCristiano) October 23, 2019
“The draft legislation prohibits large platform utilities, like Facebook, from becoming chartered, licensed, or registered as a U.S. financial institution (e.g., like taxpayer-backed banks, investment funds, and stock exchanges) or otherwise becoming affiliated with such financial institutions,” a press release from the U.S. House Committee of Financial Services said.
Beyond lawmakers, many of Libra’s initial partners appear bearish on the cryptocurrency’s chances. Earlier this month, PayPal decided to end its participation in the Libra Association following regulatory scrutiny from lawmakers in both the U.S. and Europe. Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe, and Argentine e-commerce giant Mercado Pago all pulled out of the project shortly thereafter.
The last time Zuckerberg testified before Congress was back in March 2018, for his company’s failure to protect user information in the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. Last month, he visited Washington, D.C., for the first time since that testimony in an attempt to win over individual lawmakers despite his company’s many privacy mishaps. Last week, Zuckerberg gave a speech at Georgetown University defending his company’s decision to allow politicians to post misleading or outright fault ads on Facebook.
Zuckerberg’s testimony on Wednesday will happen a day after nearly ever state attorney general announced their participation in an antitrust investigation into Facebook. In total, 47 attorneys general are now looking into whether the social media giant “stifled competition” in a way that may have impacted user data and ad prices.
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