POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Rep. Ben McAdams says Facebook cryptocurrency might encourage child pornography

Oct 24, 2019, 6:17 PM | Updated: Oct 25, 2019, 11:00 am
Democrat Unseating the only Democrat representing Utah in Congress will be a challenge -- but first, Republicans in Utah's 4th Congressional District will have to choose their candidate. (FILE PHOTO DESERET NEWS)
(FILE PHOTO DESERET NEWS)

SALT LAKE CITY—Congressman Ben McAdams told Dave and Dujanovic Thursday Facebook’s new cryptocurrency might enable child exploitation. The currency ‘Libra’ gives users more privacy but McAdams thinks it lets predators share illicit information.

“If you have a currency that is completely and one hundred percent anonymous—there’s some scary things that can happen… and you might see an uptick in terrorism, in child exploitation, inhuman trafficking, in weapons trafficking,” McAdams said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified the financial industry is stagnant and there is no system online to support the innovation we need. Congress grilled Zuckerberg about Libra for six hours on Capitol Hill on Oct. 23.

During Zuckerberg’s testimony in DC, McAdams asked if social media networks are obligated to make sure their networks are safe for vulnerable groups, especially children. He said 45 million images of child pornography were found on the internet last year.

McAdams said he supports privacy but there are risks that come with it. He explained anonymous currency, transactions and communication are the perfect tools for child exploitation.

The Congressman said people with innocent behavior want privacy online. However, “if you are exchanging child pornography this is going to put rocket fuel into an industry that already has so many victims.”

McAdams said encryption makes it much harder to find child pornography.

For example, McAdams mentioned Facebook and Facebook Messenger reported nearly 13 million child pornography images on the sites. What’s App, another app owned by Facebook, is more popular than Messenger and has far fewer child pornography images due to encryption.

Zuckerberg is planning to format Facebook similar to What’s App with complete encryption and cryptocurrency. In doing so, it would make it nearly impossible to view child pornography on Facebook and to trace where the cryptocurrency is being spent.

“I think that’s a really scary recipe if we don’t do it right,” said McAdams.

McAdams believes internet companies like Facebook need to be held accountable for ensuring their social media apps are not being used for child exploitation.

Zuckerberg told McAdams Facebook is doing everything they can to protect children online. The company is using artificial intelligence among other things to identify pornographic images on Facebook Messenger.

Zuckerberg said he won’t encrypt Facebook until he gets approval. McAdams warns that cryptocurrency might move forward without all the approval.

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Rep. Ben McAdams says Facebook cryptocurrency might encourage child pornography