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Top Democrat calls for strict oversight on Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

The top Democrat on the Senate Banking Committee blasted Facebook’s Tuesday announcement that it would be launching a new cryptocurrency. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) warned the company that any new plans should be subject to strict oversight.

“Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy,” Brown said. “We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight. I’m calling on our financial watchdogs to scrutinize this closely to ensure users are protected.”

Brown’s comments follow a highly anticipated announcement from Facebook Tuesday morning that it would be releasing a global cryptocurrency next year called Libra. Libra is backed by a number of large corporate financial and technology companies from Mastercard and Visa to Uber, Lyft, and PayPal.

Facebook’s Libra launch could force the federal government to think through how to regulate crypto and blockchain technologies. As of yet, Congress and the federal government have done little except hold educational hearings from experts on the topic.

Last October, Chairman of the Banking Committee Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) said at a hearing focused on the crypto ecosystem, “In order to move forward in a productive way and give these innovations the room to flourish and develop in a safe and sound way, we need to sort through the static and better understand what exactly are the opportunities and challenges facing this ecosystem.”

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