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Concerns over Facebook’s Libra released by global regulators

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A group of regulators from around the world has issued a warning about some of the safety features of Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, Libra.

The group, which includes major names from the data protection fields around the western world, expressed worry about how Facebook would “handle personal information”.

Regulators who are signed up to the scheme include the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is also a signatory, while representatives from North America and Europe are also involved.

In a statement published online, the group said it wanted to “express our shared concerns about the privacy risks posed by the Libra digital currency and infrastructure”.

It set a number of questions for Facebook and others involved in the Libra Association, a group which has been set up to power the development of the cryptocurrency.

“How can global data protection and privacy enforcement authorities be confident that the Libra Network has robust measures to protect the personal information of network users?” it asked.

In a possible nod to anti-money laundering and so-called “know your customer” regulations, the regulators also asked for clarity about how Facebook would know who was using the network.

“How will the Libra Association ensure that all processors of data within the Libra Network are identified, and are compliant with their respective data protection obligations?” was its third question.

There were also questions about what the Libra network might be able to do to show that there was consistency in policy approach across the world.

“How will the Libra Network ensure that its data protection and privacy policies, standards and controls apply consistently across the Libra Network’s operations in all jurisdictions?” it asked.

In an unusual move, the regulators also went further by emphasising the specific areas of the wider Libra network which it perceived to need regulating.

It said that the expectations it laid down in its statement would apply to the “Libra Association, Facebook’s subsidiary Calibra, and any future Libra digital wallet provider (collectively referred to as the Libra Network) in protecting the personal information it will handle.”

There was some muted support for the Libra project, but it came with a caveat.

“We are supportive of the economic and social benefits that new technologies can bring, but this must not be at the expense of people’s privacy”, it said.

Libra is a major project of Facebook’s, and it is backed by a number of other major corporate names including Andreessen Horowitz and Visa.

It is considered to be a major foray by the social networking giant into both the world of finance and the world of blockchain technology, both of which, so far, are largely unchartered territory for the company.

As yet, Facebook has not come out and explained the way in which users of Libra will have their personal information processed and dealt with – leading many groups, including these regulators, to worry about the potential for crypto fraud posed by users on the Libra network.