THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE (ICO) has become the latest watchdog to raise an eyebrow at Facebook's s Libra cryptocurrency creation.
The Information Commissioner herself, one Elizabeth Denham, signed a statement along with fellow data protection bodies from other nations, including the US, EU, Canada and Australia, raising concerns about how Libra will ensure its future users' data is protected.
The statement has not only been levied at Facebook but also the 28 other companies involved in setting up the Libra cryptocurrency.
"The ambition and scope of the Libra project has the potential to change the online payment landscape, and to offer benefits to consumers. But that ambition must work in tandem with people's privacy expectations and rights," said Denham.
"Facebook's involvement is particularly significant, as there is the potential to combine Facebook's vast reserves of personal information with financial information and cryptocurrency, amplifying privacy concerns about the network's design and data sharing arrangements."
We imagine Denham is looking back over Facebook's data handling debacles that have cropped up over the past 18 months or so, notably the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.
The leading lady for the data protection in the UK did acknowledge that Facebook seems to be doing its darnedest to enter open dialogues with financial regulators and plans to comply with financial services product rules. But Denham and chums still want some reassurance.
"However, given the rapid plans for Libra and Calibra, we are concerned that there is little detail available about the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information," said Denham. "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."
Given there are already Libra cryptocurrency scams popping up on Facebook, we're not surprised to see some concerns continue to pop up around Libra.
Libra Association's Dante Disparte told us that it appreciates the scrutiny of the ICO and its buddies: "We appreciate these thoughtful questions and share the commitment to protecting personal information. As much as Libra represents an opportunity for the world to make inroads on financial inclusion, we acknowledge the need to design an infrastructure that complies with global privacy requirements."
We guess we'll just have to wait and see how Libra evolves and if data protection organisation can reassured all will be fine. µ
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