Tech

Swiss group that's supposed to oversee privacy for Libra says it hasn't heard from Facebook at all

Key Points
  • David Marcus, the head of Facebook's digital currency project, says during a hearing in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday that authorities in Switzerland will oversee data and privacy protections for its new cryptocurrency, Libra.
  • But a spokesperson for the Swiss agency, the Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner, says it has not yet been contacted by Facebook.
  • Several senators who questioned Marcus on Tuesday express concern over Facebook's reputation with data privacy.
David Marcus, Head of Calibra at Facebook, testifies about Facebook's proposed digital currency called Libra, during a Senate Banking, House and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 16, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

Facebook said on Tuesday that Switzerland's data protection agency will oversee data and privacy protections for its new cryptocurrency, Libra.

But Facebook hasn't reached out to the Swiss regulator, a spokesman for the agency told CNBC.

In his testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, David Marcus, the head of Facebook's digital currency project, said, "For the purposes of data and privacy protections, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) will be the Libra Association's privacy regulator."

Asked about the agency's role regulating Libra, Hugo Wyler, head of communication at the FDPIC, said in a statement to CNBC:

"We have taken note of the statements made by David Marcus, Chief of Calibra, on our potential role as data protection supervisory authority in the Libra context. Until today we have not been contacted by the promoters of Libra," Wyler said. "We expect Facebook or its promoters to provide us with concrete information when the time comes. Only then will we be able to examine the extent to which our legal advisory and supervisory competence is given. In any case, we are following the development of the project in the public debate."

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed that the company hasn't yet met with the FDPIC.

Facebook's cryptocurrency project has already been met with skepticism from policymakers around the world. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell both said they have "serious concerns" about Libra related to money laundering, financial stability and regulation. Many of the senators who questioned Marcus on Tuesday also brought up data privacy concerns tied to Libra.

While FDPIC would handle data privacy issues, the Swiss Financial Markets Supervisory Authority, or FINMA, would be the main financial regulator of Libra, Marcus said in his testimony. FINMA confirmed to CNBC it was in contact with initiators of the Libra project.

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Senators grill Facebook's David Marcus over social media giant's cryptocurrency plans