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An open letter from the Open Markets Institute, a group of consumer advocate groups, is asking partners of Facebook’s Libra project such as PayPal or MasterCard to back out of the project.
A Consortium of Sorts
There are 28 groups in total working with Facebook, and more will be joining up by launch if the social media giant has its way. However, the letter hopes to circumvent this from happening.
The Open Markets Institute opens the letter by addressing Libra partners as equals:
“We call upon you as respected members of the business, financial, technology, and civil society communities to collectively withdraw from the Libra project. The Libra project is a global parallel currency with significant competitive, political, financial, and social implications. The ostensible purpose is to service the 1.7 billion people without access to traditional banking products and services. Achieving a laudable goal should not be cheapened with a project whose aims are in fact unclear and whose leadership structure is based on fear.”
This letter then references the recent Senate hearing in which Libra head David Marcus testified about the project. There, Senator Brian Schatz said that even these partner consortiums had questions that must be answered:
“Members of the consortium actually have lots of questions too, similar to the questions that are being offered on this dais and they have great reservations about moving forward but they don’t want to be left out because of Facebook’s market power.”
That’s not to mention the direct attacks made by most of the Senators during the hearing. Many of them wondered how the online trading process would go. There, very few members were convinced of Facebook’s intentions, citing recent privacy problems the social media giant has suffered from.
Finally, the letter addresses Facebook’s attempt to shift the blame. It claims that the platform isn’t genuine by doing so:
“Facebook is eager to present itself as just one voice of many in the Libra Association. No one is fooled by this subterfuge, there’s a reason that Congressional committees are seeking answers from Facebook officials. Even so, because you have sanctioned this project with your brands, Facebook is speaking, at least in part, in your name. We understand that Facebook is a powerful company, and that it has in part generated a climate of fear with its market dominance. But if you collectively withdraw from the project, it will signal that the just-beginning era of digital money will be based on fair rules and democratic deliberation, and not intimidation by the powerful.”
Will any of these groups pull out due to the letter? It’s unlikely. There’s little chance that any of them are unaware of the risks brought up here. And, directly asking for change probably won’t work. Was this still worth a try? Absolutely.