The cryptographic head of Facebook warns against risks for sanctions, national security

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David Marcus, head of the blockchain with Facebook Inc., awaits the start of a hearing of the Senate banking committee in Washington, D.C., United States, Tuesday, July 16, 2019.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The United States' efforts in national security will fall behind without innovation in financial services, the head of the new cryptocurrency subsidiary of Facebook said in a hearing on company plans for a new digital currency.

David Marcus, who heads up the Calibra branch of Facebook, answered a question from Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton about how the new currency would affect the ability of the United States to impose effective sanctions. Cotton said Iran, on which the United States imposed sanctions, worked on developing its own cryptocurrency.

"I'm glad you invented it because I believe that if we don't drive in space, the others will," said Marcus. "In the same way that we will end up with two internet and two different infrastructures, we will have two different financial systems and two different financial networks and one will be out of reach of the sanctions that are so effective in applying our foreign policy and preserving the our national security ".

Marcus could refer to the fragmentation of the online world between countries like the United States where citizens can surf freely and those like China where certain search results and websites are censored by the government. He said that if the United States fails to overcome fragmentation in financial services, national security could be at risk.

"Actually, I believe that if we stand still we will find ourselves in a situation in ten, 15 years when we will really have half the world we will be working on, by the way a blockchain-based technology, which will be out of reach of our security apparatus national, "said Marcus.

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