Jul 17, 2019

Congress grills Facebook over cryptocurrency plans

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Given Facebook's multitude of missteps and scandals over the past two years, it's no surprise that legislators are skeptical of the company's plans to launch a new cryptocurrency called Libra.

Why it matters: Facebook faces a host of legal and regulatory issues around the globe amid concerns over privacy, data sharing and money laundering.

  • For his part, David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading its Libra efforts, acknowledged "serious legitimate concerns" and committed to "do what it takes to address these concerns," according to The Hill.
  • "And if those concerns are not addressed, and if the regulatory oversight is not appropriate, then we will not launch until it is," Marcus said.

Details: Members of the Senate Banking Committee piled on their concerns, expressed particularly strongly by Sen. Sherrod Brown:

“They moved fast and broke our political discourse. They moved fast and broke journalism. They moved fast and helped incite a genocide. They moved fast and they’re helping to undermine our democracy. Now Facebook asks people to trust them with their hard-earned paychecks."
— Sen. Sherrod Brown
  • For a company to have Facebook's track record and look to become its own currency issuer, Brown said, "takes a breathtaking amount of arrogance."

Meanwhile, CNBC reports that the Swiss regulator Marcus said will oversee Libra has yet to hear from the currency's backers.

Go deeper: Facebook spoils the cryptocurrency party

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New squeeze for Facebook, Amazon

Big Tech got squeezed from both sides of the Atlantic on Wednesday.

What's happening: The EU will investigate how Amazon creates products that compete with offerings from outside merchants on its site. "Brussels is also poised to conclude a four-year probe into US chipmaker Qualcomm by fining the company for abuse of dominant position." Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have found common ground: Big Tech is too powerful and needs to be knocked down a peg.

Go deeperArrowJul 17, 2019

The FTC writes Facebook's new rulebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the F8 Developer Conference in April. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While Facebook's privacy settlement with the Federal Trade Commission includes a record $5 billion fine, its most important provisions lie in new restrictions it places on the company's practices.

Why it matters: The settlement's effectiveness will lie in whether these terms end up protecting consumers — yet policymakers on both sides of the aisle are already saying they don't go far enough.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019

Facebook's privacy-scandal Groundhog Day


Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Tuesday's news (via Bloomberg) that Facebook had contractors listen to users' private recorded messages to provide transcription quality control was hardly surprising.

The big picture: Google and Apple had been doing the same thing until a couple of weeks ago, when they stopped after reports surfaced in public. In fact, Facebook says it stopped the practice when its rivals did, as well. What's surprising is how little Facebook's playbook around privacy violations has changed, even after 18 months of controversy and a recent $5 billion settlement over the issue with the Federal Trade Commission.

Go deeperArrowAug 14, 2019