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US, UK regulators ask Facebook how Libra will protect personal data (updated)

They're worried the cryptocurrency may violate privacy.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
August 5, 2019
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Facebook knew its Libra cryptocurrency would face a regulatory gauntlet, but it might not have expected a united front. Regulators from the US, UK, EU and four other governments have asked Facebook to answer several questions about how it will protect user data. The social network has "not met [regulators'] expectations" of privacy in the past, officials said in a joint statement, and there should be assurances that Libra will do better.

The regulators want to know that Libra will have "robust measures" to protect personal data, including transparency, adequate privacy protection tools and a minimal collection of info. They also want to know if Facebook will embrace a "privacy by design" ethos, ensure data processors meet obligations, apply consistent standards across countries and explain how it will share data with Libra Network members.

The group expected answers from Facebook, although it didn't set a deadline. We've asked Facebook for comment.

Facebook will certainly have to address privacy concerns at some point. Politicians have gone so far as to ask the company to pause work on Libra until it allays their fears of data misuse. Joint statements like this, though, illustrate just how much work will likely be involved. It may have to reassure many countries before its digital money stands a chance of reaching the public.

Update 8/7 8:45PM ET: Facebook has issued a statement indicating that it would honor regulators' wishes. You can read the full statement below.

"We appreciate these thoughtful questions and share the commitment to protecting personal information. As much as Libra represents an opportunity for the world to make inroads on financial inclusion, we acknowledge the need to design an infrastructure that complies with global privacy requirements."

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