Facebook says Libra could assist authorities: What it means for your privacy

Facebook, the social media giant that recently agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine over privacy violations, says its not-yet-launched crypto platform can assist law enforcement with busting criminals -- thanks partly to the extensive amount of user data it plans to store.

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Facebook’s digital currency chief David Marcus says the company’s proposed cryptocurrency network, Libra, can help law enforcement track down thieves, money launderers and other devious characters with the mega amounts of user and transaction info the digital wallet platform will store.

Marcus, head of Calibra (the new Facebook digital wallet unit), gave Congress the selling point during hearings this month.

David Marcus, CEO of Facebook's Calibra digital wallet service, speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“I believe that we can improve on the current system,” Marcus told Congress. “I think this system might be potentially better.”

The Libra network will be more regulated than bitcoin, as any financial service providers that want to gain access will need to comply with its to-be-formalized rules. Bitcoin differs in that it doesn’t have one central overseer, and can’t as easily be regulated. The bitcoin network is fully open, Libra won't be.

Every bitcoin transaction -- including alterations -- are tracked, but ownership data is not always. Libra transactions and the person making them, on the other hand, will always be recorded.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FBFACEBOOK INC.197.93+0.42+0.21%
VVISA INC.179.89-1.77-0.97%
MAMASTERCARD INCORPORATED284.45-0.93-0.33%

Marcus implied in testimony last month that law enforcement could have access to that information when needed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The company has said since unveiling its crypto plans that its social media site and digital currency network will remain in their own lanes when it comes to user info.

“We realize people don’t want their social data and financial data commingled,” Marcus told TechCrunch in June. “The reality is we’ll have plenty of wallets that will compete with us and many of them will not be in social, and if we want to successfully win people’s trust, we have to make sure the data will be separated.”

Marcus is the former president of digital payments giant PayPal, which is a Libra association member.

Multiple government officials, including Secretary Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, have voiced concerns about the new cryptocurrency. Mnuchin said earlier this month that Libra was a "national security issue," while Powell said separately that it raises concerns about data privacy. Libra's parent company, Facebook, recently paid a $5 billion fine to federal regulators, ending a probe into its data privacy practices that lasted more than a year.

FILE - In this Wednesday, July 17, 2019, file photo, a list of settlements, violations and breaches scrolls over Facebook's logo on a screen as David Marcus, CEO of Facebook's Calibra digital wallet service, foreground right, appears before a House F (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

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Facebook didn't return FOX Business's request for comment by the time of publication.