The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has joined data protection authorities from around the world in calling for more openness about the proposed Libra digital currency and infrastructure. A statement issued to Facebook and 28 other companies behind the project asks them to provide details of how customers’ personal data will be processed in line with data protection laws. It also asks for assurances that only the minimum required data will be collected and that the service will be transparent, while at the same time requesting details of how data will be shared between Libra Network members.
The statement is signed by a cross-section of authorities representing millions of people in Europe, the Americas, Africa and Australasia. These include the UK’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham and her counterparts in Australia, the USA, Canada, Burkina Faso and Albania, as well as the EU’s European Data Protection Supervisor.
Denham said: “The ambition and scope of the Libra project has the potential to change the online payment landscape and offer benefits to consumers, but that ambition must work in tandem with people’s privacy expectations and rights. Facebook’s involvement is particularly significant as there’s the potential to combine its vast reserves of personal information with financial information and cryptocurrency, amplifying privacy concerns about the network’s design and data sharing arrangements.”
Denham went on to comment: “We know that the Libra Network has already opened dialogue with many financial regulators on how it intends to comply with financial services product rules. However, given the rapid plans for Libra and Calibra, we’re concerned that there’s little detail available about the information handling practices that will be in place to secure and protect personal information.”
In conclusion, Denham observed: “I very much hope that our statement on this matter 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.”