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Targeting Facebook’s Libra, Illinois Rep Seeks to Ban Big Tech From Financial Sector

Facebook introduced its cryptocurrency plan in June to widespread skepticism and suspicion, particularly among lawmakers. Despite CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s personal appeal on Capitol Hill last week little seems to have been done to assuage the apprehension.
"Both Democrats and Republicans have great concerns about allowing such a proposal to move forward," said Rep. Jesús García (D-Ill.).
Since the unveiling of Libra, the name of Facebook's forthcoming cryptocurrency, critics have raised concerns over issues ranging from privacy intrusions to money laundering. Opponents, like García, have also objected to the social media giant's attempt to influence yet another intimate facet of consumer behavior.
"Facebook is a huge monopoly," García said, adding that the platform in particular "carries a heavy liability."
Last week, García introduced the Keep Big Tech Out of Finance Act, which seeks to impose an outright ban on any major platform company operating in the financial sector. The bill was released the same day that Zuckerberg testified on Capitol Hill in an effort to alleviate lawmaker's concerns.
"The financial industry is stagnant and there is no digital financial architecture to support the innovation we need. I believe this problem can be solved, and Libra can help," Zuckerberg told the House Financial Services Committee.
Following Zuckerberg's hearing, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said she too had lingering doubt regarding the project. "We have a lot of work to do to really discover and find out what is Libra," Waters, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, told Cheddar.
Other lawmakers have also sought to stymie Libra through legislation. The Stablecoins are Securities Act of 2019, for instance, seeks to place stablecoins — cryptocurrencies that are pegged to real-world assets like a national currency — within the jurisdiction of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission and under the Securities Act of 1933. The bill was introduced last week by Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas).
"If big tech is interested in advancing a system that they feel is important in the 21st century, they should seek to partner, perhaps, with government and not lay out a completely independent system," García said.
Zuckerberg, for his part, has publicly stated that Facebook will not participate in the launching of Libra anywhere in the world until it is approved by U.S. regulators.
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