Ex-Federal Prosecutor: US Blocking Libra Has National Security Implications

Ex-federal prosecutor and now Andreessen Horowitz partner Katie Haun has argued that the United States blocking Facebook’s Libra digital currency will have national security implications.

Haun’s comments were reported in a CNBC profile published on Oct. 6.

Andreessen Horowitz is a founding member of the Libra Association, the Switzerland-headquartered nonprofit consortium established to govern the Libra token.

Speaking of the planned cryptocurrency, Haun noted that the social media titan’s project was facing “the same criticisms” and misperceptions that the asset class faces more broadly. She noted:

“They were just heightened and they got more attention because of the high-profile nature of the project and the fact that Facebook was involved. I think it would be a really dangerous thing, and frankly a dangerous precedent to start shutting down technology before it’s built.”

Haun underscored her perspective that there are national security implications if the United States falls behind in terms of cryptocurrency development, pointing to plans to launch competitors to Libra by states such as China and Russia.

China has been researching its digital currency project since 2014, with development work gaining speed in 2018. In August, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) revealed that its digital currency was almost ready to launch — significantly sooner than Libra.

A top PBoC official has indicated that the currency’s organizational structure is to some extent similar to that of Libra’s and that Facebook’s unveiled project had fed back into the currency’s original design.

Haun, who formerly worked at the Justice Department’s National Security Division on terrorism, mafia and other criminal cases, came to crypto gradually. At first she was investigating the use of Bitcoin (BTC) to facilitate extortion and white-collar crime during her time at the U.S. attorney’s office.

Taking the view that prosecutors’ perception of Bitcoin was misguided — their position being “akin to saying ‘let’s go prosecute cash,’” in her words — she established a task force for digital currency coordination in 2015 as a resource for prosecutors and agencies.

She began hosting regular meetings and training seminars with the U.S. Treasury, IRS and other government agencies. She also started teaching a class on cryptocurrency at Stanford Law School, where she graduated.

After choosing to leave her role in the federal government, Haun’s trajectory has led to her becoming the first female partner at major crypto VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, having meanwhile served on the board of Coinbase, where she first met Horowitz partner Chris Dixon.

Recently, payment processor PayPal officially left the Libra Association.

Other major brands such as Visa, Mastercard and Stripe have been worried that Libra could harm their relationships with regulators.

Libra has created controversy with lawmakers worldwide since its inception, with a common narrative revolving around the digital currency taking power over money away from governments.

Stripe subsequently denied it was considering a U-turn. Libra developers have also outlined a roadmap for progress, revealing that nodes were already testing communication with one another.

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