Rep. Waters questions Facebook’s crypto plans

abdelaziz Fathi

Meta, the tech giant formerly known as Facebook, is facing scrutiny from Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) regarding its ongoing efforts in the digital assets and cryptocurrency industries.

Facebook

In a letter addressed to CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Javier Olivan, Rep. Waters voiced concerns about Meta’s apparent expansion into the cryptocurrency sector.

The letter highlights that Meta currently has five active trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) related to digital assets. These applications cover a range of services, including social media networking, dating services, as well as the trading and validating of cryptocurrencies. This move by Meta suggests a great interest in the digital assets sector, contrary to the company’s previous statements.

Rep. Waters pointed out a discrepancy in Meta’s approach: despite these active patent applications, the company informed the Financial Services Committee on October 12 that there are no digital asset-related works ongoing within the company. This contradiction raises questions about Meta’s transparency and intentions in the digital asset space.

“I write to express my concerns regarding Meta Platforms, Inc.’s (f/k/a Facebook, Inc.) filing status of five trademark applications related to various digital assets services and blockchain technology with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO),” the letter said.

One of these applications filed by Facebook owner with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) includes a trademark for online networking and dating services. In this sense, the authors of the document propose a subdivision specifically customized for people interested in cryptocurrency investing.

As for non-cryptocurrency trademark applications, it referenced virtual reality and augmented reality advertising that better aligns with a recent commitment to the “metaverse.”

Meta also applied in 2022 for trademark registration in Brazil that would allow the firm to design, develop, and provide hardware/software for bitcoin and a variety of crypto-related services.

Meta’s engagement in digital currency initiatives is not new. The company previously attempted to launch its own digital currency project in 2019, initially known as Libra and later renamed Diem. However, this project faced opposition from regulators and lawmakers worldwide, leading to its eventual shutdown. The project’s assets were sold to Silvergate Bank in 2022.

This is not the first time Rep. Waters has voiced concerns over Big Tech’s involvement in digital assets. Last year, she raised similar questions about PayPal’s decision to introduce a stablecoin, highlighting the lack of a federal framework for the regulation, oversight, and enforcement of such assets.

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