Maxine Waters Questions Meta’s Expansion in the Digital Assets Ecosystem
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Ranking Member of the United States House Financial Services Committee, has raised concerns about Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) and its potential expansion in the digital assets ecosystem. In a letter dated January 22, 2024, Waters directed her questions to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Javier Olivan, referencing trademark applications filed by Meta that suggest involvement in the crypto and blockchain sphere.
Trademark Applications Indicate Crypto and Blockchain Involvement
Meta’s trademark applications, filed on March 18, 2022, cover various services related to crypto and blockchain, such as trading, exchange, payments, transfers, and associated hardware and software infrastructure. Despite Meta’s denial of engaging in any digital assets work in October 2023, these trademark applications indicate otherwise. The House Financial Services Committee is seeking clarity from Meta regarding any ongoing or planned blockchain or crypto-related projects.
Notice of Allowance Confirms Registration Requirements Met
Each of Meta’s trademark applications has received a Notice of Allowance (NOA), confirming that the applications meet registration requirements. Meta must now file a statement of use or request an extension within six months of the NOA issuance dates, which range from August 2023 to January 2024.
Maxine Waters’ History of Scrutinizing Tech Giants in the Crypto Space
This is not the first time Maxine Waters has expressed concerns about tech giants venturing into the digital assets sector. In 2019, Waters raised objections to Meta’s Libra (later Diem) stablecoin project and its corresponding digital wallet, Calibra. The project faced significant backlash from lawmakers and regulators, ultimately leading to its discontinuation and the sale of assets to Silvergate Bank in January 2022.
Questions Raised About Meta’s Involvement in Digital Assets
Waters’ letter to Meta questions the extent of the company’s involvement in digital assets. She specifically inquires about plans to launch a crypto payments platform, research into stablecoins, partnerships with stablecoin projects, and the adoption of distributed ledger technology (DLT). Waters is particularly concerned about the implications of big tech companies like Meta entering the digital assets space, given their access to vast amounts of user data and the lack of a federal framework for regulating such ventures.
Tech Giants Exploring Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
Meta’s interest in digital assets reflects a broader trend among tech giants exploring blockchain and cryptocurrency as potential new business avenues. However, this expansion raises critical questions about user privacy, data security, regulatory compliance, and the impact on traditional financial systems.
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