The move comes even as government regulators have called for the company to suspend the project while they assess its legality and the potential threat it could pose to the global financial system.
Undeterred, Facebook and its partners in the Libra project are moving ahead, and offering up the bug bounty program as proof of how seriously the company is taking its responsibilities as it looks to entirely refashion the global financial system in its image.
They’re offering up to $10,000 for security experts who find flaws in code in projects developed on the foundation’s testnet.
“We are launching this bug bounty now, well before the Libra Blockchain is live. Our hope is that people around the world can turn to Libra for their everyday financial needs, so the infrastructure must be dependable and safe,” said Dante Disparte, head of Policy and Communications, Libra Association, in a statement. “It’s important to note that the Libra Blockchain remains in testnet, which is an early-stage version of the code that is far from final. We remain committed to taking the time to get this right and we will not launch the Libra Blockchain until regulatory concerns have been taken into account and required regulatory approvals have been received.”
However, the launch of a bug bounty program for a testnet that’s not yet commercially viable, let alone approved, seems potentially premature. Various spokespeople for the foundation noted that Libra is not yet launched.
“As Libra moves towards mainnet launch, this is an important step that shows the association is thinking about security actively and in a progressive way,” said Aaron Henshaw, chief technology officer of Bison Trails, a blockchain infrastructure service provider and partner in the Libra Foundation.
Some could view the launch as an overabundance of caution; others could call it a public relations stunt meant to assuage the public and lawmakers about the security of a system that has no guarantee of even launching.
The Libra Association, through a spokesperson, wouldn’t even comment on how many projects are currently operating on the Libra testnet.
Instead of a bug bounty, Facebook and its partners in the Libra Association may be better off dealing with the potential bugs their planned payments system could create for governments and the global financial system.