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The US Week Ahead: Zuckerberg to testify on financial services, housing issues

Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress this week at a hearing about the company's impact on the financial services and housing sectors.

The hearing will be held Oct. 23 by the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services and is likely to feature a number of questions on the company's proposed cryptocurrency, Libra, and Calibra, a subsidiary that would offer a digital wallet allowing users to send Libra to any user with a smartphone.

Facebook's efforts to launch the cryptocurrency could be in jeopardy as a number of companies that were once partners have recently left the initiative, including Visa Inc., Stripe Inc., eBay Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc.

In July, the chair of the committee hosting the hearing, Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., sent a letter to Facebook urging the company to "cease implementation plans until regulators and Congress have an opportunity to examine these issues and take action."

David Marcus, who heads Calibra, previously testified at a U.S. Senate hearing on the initiative. At the hearing, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle were skeptical of the proposed cryptocurrency, citing Facebook's track record with privacy as a major concern.

To alleviate lawmakers' concerns, Marcus wrote in a September letter to Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, D-Mo., that the company will delay Libra's launch until all U.S. regulatory concerns are addressed.

In the housing sector, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook with housing discrimination related to the company's targeted advertising practices in March. The department claimed that the company violated the Fair Housing Act, a federal anti-discrimination law, by restricting who could view housing-related ads based on race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, sex and disability.

Facebook announced in March that it will change targeting capabilities on housing, employment and credit advertisements as part of a settlement with the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Communication Workers of America and others.

Zuckerberg is expected to be the sole witness at the hearing. It will be his first congressional testimony since he testified in 2018 in the wake of a privacy scandal at the company.

Government

Oct. 21 A subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business will host a hearing titled "Harvesting the Digital Age: Connecting our Communities for a Better Future" in Gettysburg, Pa.
Oct. 22 A subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security will host a hearing titled "Preparing for the Future: An Assessment of Emerging Cyber Threats."
Oct. 23 The House Committee on Financial Services will host a hearing titled "An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors." Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to testify.
Oct. 23 The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation will host a hearing titled "The Reauthorization of STELAR."
Oct. 25 The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will host its monthly open meeting.
Industry, legal and think tank events
Oct 21-25 The media company CyberScoop will host a festival titled "DC CyberWeek 2019" in Washington.
Oct. 21 The Technology Policy Institute will host an event titled "Techlash: Is It Real and How to Respond" in Washington, D.C.
Oct. 22-24 Mobile World Congress Los Angeles 2019, an exhibition for the mobile industry.
Oct. 25 A collection of technology organizations will host an event titled "Encryption Briefing: Understanding Its Technical and Human Elements" in Washington, D.C.

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