The discussions about Libra are not aborting. Facebook’s planned cryptocurrency was on the agenda this week in both chambers of the US Congress. Even beyond politics, many want to stop the currency project. US consumer advocates now started another attempt. Their strategy: an open appeal to the members of the Libra Association.
In the United States, public opposition to the planned Facebook currency is growing. After Libra boss David Marcus had to answer before the Senate and the Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, now also various consumer associations have expressed their displeasure. The Open Market Institute, the Revolving Door Project and Public Citizen and the Demand Progress Education Fund wrote an open letter. In it they ask the 28 members of the Libra Association to withdraw from the project.
The Libra Association is responsible for managing the Facebook currency. Its members include well-known companies such as Visa, PayPal or Uber. The authors of the letter hope to be able to move the Libra partners to a joint action. In doing so, they make clear that enabling 1.7 billion people to access the financial system is in itself a “commendable concern”. The goals of the project are however unclear, also the management structure is ultimately based on fear.
Libra participation out of fear?
This fear stems from the market power of Facebook for the consumer advocates. It’s clear to her that Facebook is in charge of Libra. That the social media giant is styled as an Association member among many, is therefore nothing more than an easily comprehensible “trick”. To underline their point, they cite US Senator Brian Schatz. This was at the Senate hearing clear words:
The members of the consortium actually have many questions, similar to the questions that are asked on this panel, and they have great reservations about their further development, but they do not want to be left out because of Facebook’s market power.
The authors of the letter recall that the senators objected to “virtually every aspect” of Libra. However, as the members of the Association approved Facebook’s plans by name, it was up to them to distance themselves from the project:
We understand that Facebook is a powerful company and has created a climate of fear with its market dominance. But if you withdraw from the project together, it will signal that the era of digital money that is just beginning will be based on fair rules and democratic consultation, not intimidation by the powerful.
Of the consumer associations involved, Public Citizen in particular has stood out as a vociferous Libra critic. Its president Robert Weissman even testified before the House Finance Committee. He described Facebook as untrustworthy.
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