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Facebook to Launch Its Own Cryptocurrency

Created: June 19, 2019 11:42 AM

NEW YORK (AP) - Facebook has surprised cryptocurrency experts in announcing a digital currency that shares fundamental privacy characteristics with Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency today.

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Human Rights Foundation expert Eric Wall says the Libra currency's base layer will allow for anonymity even though the bulk of the exchanges where it trades will adhere to anti-money laundering and other regulations.

Wall says it seems to Libra is designed not just for Facebook properties - where data on who is buying what from whom can be scooped up - but also to leak into the unregulated world at large.

The Swedish expert said Tuesday that Facebook appears bent on making Libra the global currency of choice and is very clever in seeking to place the regulatory burden on other businesses. He said, "It's a pretty sneak move."

Regulatory scrutiny likely

Facebook's introduction of the new digital currency is likely to draw regulatory scrutiny. But New York University law professor Eleanor Fox says initial details about the currency don't signal any traditional antitrust problems.

Facebook is already under federal investigation over its privacy practices, and along with other technology giants also faces a new antitrust probe in Congress.

Creating its own globe-spanning currency - one that could conceivably threaten banks, national currencies and the privacy of users - isn't likely to dampen regulators' interest in Facebook.

Fox says critics will say this is too much power for Facebook and shouldn't be allowed. But she considers Facebook's foray "a grass-roots entry into a new field" and says it can increase innovation.

Facebook said Tuesday it plans to launch the currency over the next six to 12 months.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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