Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the Ranking Member of the United States House Financial Services Committee, questions Meta Platforms, Inc. (formerly Facebook) regarding its trademark applications indicative of a potential expansion in the digital assets ecosystem.
Waters’ concerns, conveyed in a letter dated January 22, 2024, to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Javier Olivan, stem from five trademark applications filed by Meta on March 18, 2022. Despite Meta’s assertion on October 12, 2023, that the company was not engaging in any digital assets work, these applications suggest otherwise. The committee is pressing Meta for clarity on any ongoing or planned blockchain or crypto-related projects.
The trademark applications cover a range of services in the crypto and blockchain sphere, including trading, exchange, payments, transfers, and the associated hardware and software infrastructure. A Notice of Allowance (NOA) for each filing indicates Meta’s 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.
This inquiry isn’t Maxine Waters’ first involvement in scrutinizing tech giants’ forays into the digital assets sector. In 2019, Waters was vocal in her concerns over Meta’s Libra (later Diem) stablecoin project. Meta had announced its plans to develop the cryptocurrency and a corresponding digital wallet, Calibra. However, the project faced significant backlash from lawmakers and regulators, leading to its eventual discontinuation and the sale of its assets to Silvergate Bank in January 2022.
Waters’ letter questions the extent of Meta’s involvement in digital assets, including any plans to launch a crypto payments platform, the company’s research into stablecoins, partnerships with stablecoin projects, and the adoption of distributed ledger technology (DLT). The congresswoman 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.
In the broader context, Meta’s involvement in digital assets reflects a growing 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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