Washington (AFP)

Already pinned many times on issues of privacy and data protection, Facebook is not necessarily trustworthy when it comes to his latest major project, the cryptocurrency Libra, have put forward several US senators at the first public hearing on the subject on Tuesday.

"Facebook may not have the intention of being dangerous, but they have already demonstrated that they do not respect the power of the technologies they play with," said Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown.

"Facebook told us again and again that we had to trust them, but every time the Americans trust you, it seems they are biting their fingers," he added to the address. David Marcus, responsible for the development of the Libra project within the social network.

He tried to defend the merits for two hours on Tuesday before the Senate Finance Committee in Washington. And must do the same Wednesday before the House of Representatives.

With the announcement in mid-June of this digital currency offering an alternative payment method to traditional banking channels, Facebook wants to upset the global financial system. It is inspired by crytodevises like bitcoin.

But such a project carries with it a huge responsibility that political leaders, anxious to see private companies engage in this field, do not necessarily seem ready to give Mark Zuckerberg's group.

This cryptocurrency is causing increasing concern among regulators around the world, and Marcus has promised to address all concerns of lawmakers before launching the currency in the market, such as those related to the risk of use for money laundering, tax evasion or financing of terrorism.

- "Derail?" -

US Finance Minister Steven Mnuchin also issued a warning to the social network on Monday, saying he "would have a lot of work to do to convince" the Trump administration that Facebook could implement this currency safely.

Mnuchin stressed the need to preserve the integrity of the US currency, "a matter of national security" while the United States takes very seriously "the role of the dollar as a national reserve currency".

But in the Senate, it's mainly the question of trusting Facebook that has been raised many times.

For example, Republican Senator John Kennedy dumped a flood of questions about Marcus about what Facebook officials knew exactly about Russian interference via the social network during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

"I have a lot of respect for Facebook but Facebook now wants to control the amount of money in circulation - what could go wrong?" he asked.

Other senators also wondered if Facebook would really respect the commitment not to mix the data shared on the Libra platform and on the social network and those intended to target advertisements.

"I just do not trust you," said Republican Senator Martha McSally. "You have not respected privacy in the past (...) and yet you launch a new product and ensure that privacy will be respected.How can users know if this will not change and that respect their privacy will not be broken again? "

US senators relay some concerns raised by other regulators around the world, for example the topic is on the agenda of a meeting of G7 finance ministers to be held Wednesday and Thursday near Paris.

Senators have been more receptive to Facebook's goal of making international money transfers more affordable and accessible.

"Despite the uncertainties, Facebook's stated goals with this payment system are commendable," said Republican Senator Mike Crapo, chairman of the commission.

"If done right", the Libra project "could bring definite benefits such as the expansion of the financial system to people who do not have access to the banking system or the ability to make cheaper and faster payments", he remarked.

? 2019 AFP