A six-member delegation from the House of Congress’ Financial Services Committee will meet with Adrian Lobsiger, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), to discuss Facebook’s Libra project. According to a report from Swiss news outlet, NZZ am Sonntag, the meeting will begin this Friday, when “Waters and her tour group will visit the Bundeshaus.” (Translated quote.)
“Waters” refers to the Committee’s Chairwoman, Maxine Waters (D-CA). Waters has previously called for a moratorium on the Libra project until Congress had more time to fully understand the risks associated with the project’s possible launch.
FDPIC National Counselor Christa Markwalder told the publication that “this [meeting] will give us an opportunity to exchange views with our American colleagues about cryptocurrencies, a complex topic where we can safely learn from each other.”
Meanwhile, Lobsiger’s public comments on the project have been limited so far. However, NZZ am Sonntag reported that he “posted a statement on his website signed by data protection officers from the US, the EU, Australia, Canada and other countries” that contains critical questions about Libra and how Facebook plans to ensure that users’ data will be protected.
Lobsiger has not yet signed onto the statement himself–he said that that he first wants to clarify his own jurisdiction before he comments on Libra or endorses a joint statement by data protection officers.
Libra head David Marcus misled US Congress about contact with the FDPIC in the past
Waters also facilitated the Congressional hearing on Libra on July 17, one of two legislative hearings that were held on the project over the course of the month. During the first hearing (which was held in the US House of Representatives on July 16), David Marcus, the head of the Libra project, claimed that “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.”
“I think he skirted some of the most significant questions,” said House Financial Services Chairwoman Maxine Waters about the panel’s hearing with David Marcus, the executive in charge of Facebook’s cryptocurrency and blockchain products https://t.co/u8t1GWbfWL pic.twitter.com/FIURIMPTnu
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— Bloomberg TV (@BloombergTV) July 17, 2019
However, less than 24 hours after Marcus made this claim, FDPIC spokesperson Hugo Wyler said that his organization had not been approached by any member of the Libra project.
“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 told CNBC.
“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.”
Following Marcus’ comments, the FDPIC sent a letter to Libra on July 17th. No public response to the letter had been reported by the FDIPC at press time.
— EDÖB – PFPDT – IFPDT (@derBeauftragte) July 23, 2019