Facebook's Libra Yields Before Congress. Bitcoin Can Never Be Controlled.

Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez will never get to interrogate Satoshi Nakamoto.


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Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym of a mysterious software developer who released a white paper describing a new peer-to-peer currency called bitcoin on an obscure mailing list in 2008, then disappeared two years later.

David Marcus is a Facebook executive who was grilled in two congressional hearings this week about a new digital currency project called "Libra," which the social media giant is billing as a less volatile version of bitcoin that can be monitored and controlled by governments.

"We are fully committed to working with regulators, here and around the world," Marcus said on Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. "And let me be clear and unambiguous: Facebook will not offer the Libra digital currency until we have fully addressed regulators' concerns and received appropriate approvals."

The hearings were a useful reminder that one of the many reasons that bitcoin is a revolutionary technology with profound political consequences, and Facebook's Libra is a payment network with some interesting properties, is that Congress can never make Satoshi Nakamoto appear on national television to be grilled by lawmakers.

Written and narrated by Jim Epstein; Graphics by Austin Bragg and Meredith Bragg.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Photo Credit: Stefani Reynolds—CNP / MEGA / Newscom

David Marcus Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom