Congressman Denver Riggleman Questions Facebook Cryptocurrency Chief David Marcus

July 18, 2019
Press Release

Washington D.C. -Today, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on Facebook's proposal to issue a digital currency known as Project Libra.  Congressman Denver Riggleman questioned Facebook Cryptocurrency Head David Marcus on a diverse set of issues regarding the proposal including safety, security and adherence to anti-money laundering laws.  

"I hope Facebook will make protecting consumers personal data needs to remain a top priority as we move forward," said Congressman Riggleman. "I look forward to Facebook's continued updates on the project."

A copy of Congressman Riggleman's questions can be found below, you can watch the hearing here.  

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Rep Riggleman: Thank you madam chair and thank you for being here Mr. Marcus. And one more time since you can see I'm usually close to last in these proceedings, what was your title?

David Marcus: My title is Head of Calibra at Facebook.

Rep Riggleman: So I have some questions and we’re get right in to it because we’ve had enough getting going on here. So my first question is: After white paper there's usually an implementation plan. And do you foresee all of your partners being bogged with the implementation plan for Libra? And once in place, can we as partners here at the US Gov’t, look at the regulatory side of this as we go forward?

David Marcus:  Congressman, Yes. This is my commitment, that we will not go forward until we've addressed all concerns and met all the regulatory bar and oversight bar that is needed for this network to operate the right way. 

Rep Riggleman: Are the partners right now involved in the open-source development of Libra and its applications?

David Marcus: Some of them are stepping up and are actually starting to be involved in the development. And I expect that since we just open-sourced the code base about 4 weeks ago that we will have a lot of outside contributions going forward.

Rep Riggleman: I took a little bit of a look at Libra core. The Javascript front end and the back end, which is rust, that helps with the actual transactions. And I know it's very, very new but what surprised me was that it looks like there's already an international flavor to it. I think Rust is 37 people in San Francisco so I did a Github search on who’s actually leading the development on the Libra core side. It looks like the thing is going to be international because it looks like a native Nigerian is actually building the actual Libra core at the front of the code development of Libra corp. So when I look at things from an intelligence background, I wonder about “Is this going to be international? Is there going to be a scalability issue?” If you look at the number of transactions that you're doing right now. But I was really surprised by the Rust language in the background. So my first question is: Why was the rust language chosen as the implementation language for Libra? And do you believe right now from what you've seen, do you believe that it’s mature enough to handle the issues and the security challenges that will really affect these large cryptocurrency transactions?

David Marcus: Congressman, excellent question on the security of the code and who can commit to the code. The Libra association will own the repository for the code and as a result, while there are many flavors and branches being developed by third parties, only safe, verified code will actually be committed to the actual Libra core base that is going to be under the governance of the Libra Association.

Rep Riggleman: And that's what I really am hoping. Right now and when i was looking at the nightly build releases, it looks likes Libra was built on nightly builds of the Rust programming language. It’s a little interesting because that's not how we usually did releases in the DoD. And I was wondering- what features of Rust are only available in the nightly builds, and this is something that you can get back to me on. What features are only available in the nightly builds and aren’t in the official releases of rust? And does Facebook see that as a concern that they are dependent on unofficially released features of the rust program? And, in other words, do you see right now why the nightly releases- do you see this as a function of just the prototyping of the program? 

David Marcus: Congressman, I don’t have all the answers to your very technical questions, but I can commit that we will get back to you with more details on your question once my technical team can get back to you.

Rep Riggleman: Some of this is not  just based on technical questions but the international applicability, you know, of Libra. So for instance, we just had the eight members of the major banks sitting here, and their issue was information sharing based on laws that we have in place right now and the confusion over sharing that data with foreign subsidiaries. And I’ll link it into this: if we already have those laws on the books, if we’re looking for CFT, if we’re looking at AML, based on my background, that’s some of the things that concern me. And also scalability- you’re looking at large transactions and blocks that, I think, have never been done before and you can probably agree that’s why you need the white paper and the open source development, um, but when you’re looking at the issues that you have for regulatory, especially for AML, the problem for me is that we have to look at this as an international problem because I think eventually, you’re going to have international wallets. I think that wallets will be built around the world and I think that’s something that we’re going towards, and that’s why  the scalability question, who’s actually doing this, who’s partnering in this is very concerning to me, and it’s really to access these individuals on Github and, you know, to see if someone from Lagos, Nigeria, is the main code writer for one of these instances is something that concerns me, you know, just based on my background. 

David Marcus: Those are absolutely fair concerns, Congressman, but again, I would like to stress that the Libra association as governance body will actually validate the committers to the code and we will make sure to be very thoughtful about who can commit to the code, and I’d be happy to follow up with your office on these issues.

Rep Riggleman: I think many members would like to see an implementation plan on top of the white paper. Thank you, sir. 

David Marcus: Thank you, Congressman.