Data privacy experts across the world are warning of the security dangers presented by Facebook’s forthcoming Libra cryptocurrency.

This week, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office joined forces with data privacy commissioners from the US, Australia, Burkina Faso, Canada and the EU to issue a statement of concern.

“While Facebook and [its crypto wallet-focused entity] Calibra have made broad public statements about privacy, they have failed to specifically address the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information,” the statement read.

Facebook’s latest scheme sees the social network throw itself into futuristic financial services, with Libra set to launch as soon as 2020.

Regulators also expressed concern over the vagueness of the actual launch time-frame, stating that they were “surprised” that “further detail is not yet available.”

The data chiefs have now laid out a series of questions that the famous social media platform is anticipated to answer. Among them will be a query over how Libra will be giving end users explicit and clear knowledge of how their data is to be used, both by Facebook, and the project’s partners.

Particular attention is paid to ensuring that the default privacy setting does not use “nudge techniques” or “dark patterns” which could lead users to openly share their data with third parties without being fully aware of the privacy implications.

The data regulators will also seek explanations from Facebook regarding how it can use “only the minimum amount” of personal data that the new project needs, so that “lawfulness” of data processing is assured.

Naturally, users’ personal data and the safeguards around keeping that data private is also a priority. The pressure is very much on Facebook to demonstrate how Libra users can exercise users’ privacy rights “including deleting their accounts, and honouring their requests in a timely way.”

Regulators in Switzerland and Singapore have called for more information from Facebook regarding the project, while two US Senate committees have brought the company to book over key data privacy issues thrown up by Libra.

Facebook’s blockchain lead, David Marcus underlined how Facebook will not have access to personal financial data gathered for Libra, stating:

“It will be the responsibility of [third party] providers to determine the type of information they may require from their customers and to comply with regulations and standards in the countries in which they operate.”

U.K. Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said:

“I hope this statement will prompt an open and constructive conversation to ensure that data protection is a key part of the design process and that data protection regulators are a key consultative group as the Libra proposals develop.”


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