Treasury Issues Crypto Guidance for Sanctions Compliance

The U.S. Treasury Department has issued guidelines specifying how to ensure virtual currency transactions comply with the government’s sanctions policies, a move by the Biden administration to thwart ransomware attacks, money laundering and other abuses. The new rules emphasize using geolocation tools that block IP addresses from sanctioned countries, ongoing monitoring of sanctioned entities and individuals and periodic review of transactions involving blacklisted virtual currency addresses. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has had virtual currency rules in place since at least 2011, but this update gives the directives new teeth. Continue reading Treasury Issues Crypto Guidance for Sanctions Compliance

Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent Alphabet, is urging the U.S. government to step up innovation and more actively police cyberthreats. In a year beset with security breaches attributed to Russian and Chinese hackers, Pichai says it’s time to draft a Geneva Convention for technology, outlining international legal standards, safeguards and behavioral norms for the connected age. Pichai also made an appeal for state-sponsored innovation in the face of competition from China, where the Communist Party under President Xi Jinping has outlined plans to advance artificial intelligence and develop a proprietary semiconductor sector. Continue reading Alphabet CEO Calls for Government Action in Tech Innovation

U.S. Advances Cybersecurity Steps as Ransomware Doubles

Payments flagged by U.S. banks as suspected ransomware in 2021 are on pace to nearly double those of 2020, according to reports filed with the Treasury Department. Almost $600 million in potential ransomware payments have been filed with the federal government from January through June, which is more than 40 percent more than the tally for full-year 2020. Reflecting the fact that governments worldwide describe cybercrime as a critical national security threat, the first International Cybersecurity Challenge is scheduled for Greece in June 2022, where 25 Americans aged 18 to 26 are set to compete. Continue reading U.S. Advances Cybersecurity Steps as Ransomware Doubles

U.S. and Five European Nations Strike Deal on Digital Taxes

An international move to eliminate digital-service taxes has gained momentum on news of an agreement between the U.S. and five European countries with whom it was polarized in its fight to retire the digital tax. Such taxes affect Big Tech companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. In all, 136 countries agreed to retool international corporate taxation at last week’s Fourth G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Washington, D.C. The deal immediately bans adding any new digital taxes, although the timing to implement reversal of existing taxes remains unclear. Continue reading U.S. and Five European Nations Strike Deal on Digital Taxes

Department of Justice Launches a Cryptocurrency Crime Unit

The U.S. Department of Justice has formed the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) to investigate the use of cryptocurrency for criminal purposes. The new unit will examine cases involving virtual currency exchanges and money laundering. Members will also investigate so-called “mixing and tumbling” services, which involve charging a fee to send cryptocurrency to an address while obscuring the source of funds. The group, which include experts from the offices of U.S. Attorneys, will also work on tracing and recovery of assets lost to fraud, hacking or ransomware extortion. Continue reading Department of Justice Launches a Cryptocurrency Crime Unit

U.S. and EU Conduct Their First Trade Tech Council Meeting

The European Union and United States agreed yesterday on strengthening cooperation regarding several major global concerns, including a “rebalancing” of supply chains for semiconductors, new approaches to regulating international tech companies, and practical models for contending with “non-market, trade-distortive policies and practices” (although China was not singled out in the group’s statement). During their first meeting in Pittsburgh yesterday, officials from the newly formed U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC) promised to work together on the development of artificial intelligence and screening interests in sensitive dual-use technologies. Continue reading U.S. and EU Conduct Their First Trade Tech Council Meeting

FTC Is Considering the Need for Stricter Online Privacy Rules

The Federal Trade Commission is looking into establishing stronger online privacy protections that would hold businesses such as Facebook, Google and Twitter more responsible for how they handle consumer data. The early discussions, under the leadership of new chair and vocal Big Tech critic Lina Khan, are addressing the possibility of introducing FTC regulation due to what is perceived as gridlock in Congress in creating a federal law. Privacy and civil rights groups have advocated for a single federal law — similar to Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) — rather than state laws (or no regulation at all). Continue reading FTC Is Considering the Need for Stricter Online Privacy Rules

Government Pursues ‘Zero Trust’ Approach to Cybersecurity

The “zero trust” policy envisioned by President Biden in May when he signed an executive order to improve cybersecurity has begun taking shape with the release last week of a draft blueprint by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While Biden’s order covers the public and private sectors “and ultimately the American people’s security and privacy,” zero trust focuses on identifying and implementing best practices for the federal government’s digital platforms and processes. Deployment will take years of investment and effort. To help jump-start the initiative, some primers have hit the news feeds. Continue reading Government Pursues ‘Zero Trust’ Approach to Cybersecurity

White House Cybersecurity Summit Brings Leaders Together

At a White House summit, President Joe Biden asked leaders of Apple, Google, JPMorgan Chase and other major companies to step up their response to cybersecurity threats. The administration, which estimated that about half a million cybersecurity jobs remain unfilled, said it would assist in developing new guidelines for secure technology and assess the security of existing technology. Google, Microsoft, and insurance companies Travelers and Coalition have already signed on to the initiative. Microsoft plans to invest $20 billion over the next five years to integrate cybersecurity into its products and Google revealed its own $10 billion commitment. Continue reading White House Cybersecurity Summit Brings Leaders Together

China Boosts Control by Buying Stakes in ByteDance, Weibo

China is strengthening its control of Internet content companies by increasing regulatory scrutiny, buying stakes in companies and filling board seats among other actions. Most recently, a state-backed company purchased 1 percent of the shares of ByteDance, parent company of TikTok, which gave it the right to appoint a director to its board. Weibo also sold a 1 percent stake to a state investor and gave it a seat on its board of directors. China has discussed owning shares of social media companies since 2016. Continue reading China Boosts Control by Buying Stakes in ByteDance, Weibo

Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

Twitter is testing a new feature in a few markets that will allow users to flag posts that contain misinformation, similar to how they can already report spam or abuse. The company — which doesn’t have a strong fact-checking unit — plans to use the feature to study misinformation on the platform rather than review the user-identified tweets for legitimacy or respond to the reporting user with updates. Currently, Twitter only fact-checks tweets on elections, COVID-19 and other “select categories.” Continue reading Twitter to Study Misinformation by Letting Users Flag Tweets

Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger and board members met with the Biden administration to promote his company’s plan to build more semiconductor factories with subsidies from the U.S. government. Currently, Asian-owned chip factories, which receive hefty incentives, dominate chip production. There’s also an “unprecedented” global shortage of chips, which is impacting the auto and consumer appliance industries. Gelsinger was hired this year to improve the fortunes of the beleaguered Intel. Continue reading Intel Chief Promotes Chipmaking Plan to U.S., Global Leaders

Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

Congress advanced legislation to spend $65 billion to expand high-speed Internet access across the country. The government estimates 14 million U.S. households don’t have broadband, but other sources believe the figure is 40 million or higher. The measure’s allocation of $65 billion for broadband, which in part would subsidize low-income households, would be the biggest ever spent in the United States. Approved by the Senate as part of the $1 trillion infrastructure measure, the measure now faces a vote in the House. Continue reading Congress Pushes Bill to Spend Billions on Broadband Access

TikTok Eclipses Facebook as Most Downloaded App Globally

A 2020 survey of downloads around the world revealed that TikTok tops the list of social media providers for the first time since the survey was initiated in 2018. TikTok parent company ByteDance debuted the international version of the app in 2017, which has since outdistanced Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, all of which fill the other four spots in the top five apps. In 2020, former president Donald Trump called on TikTok to be forced to sell off its U.S. operations, citing security concerns. Continue reading TikTok Eclipses Facebook as Most Downloaded App Globally

U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Enlists Amazon, Google, Microsoft

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), part of the Department of Homeland Security, debuted the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC), which will leverage the expertise of Big Tech companies including Amazon, Google and Microsoft. According to CISA director Jen Easterly, the initiative’s aim is first to combat ransomware and cyberattacks on cloud-computing providers and ultimately to improve defense planning and information sharing between the government and private sectors. Continue reading U.S. Cybersecurity Agency Enlists Amazon, Google, Microsoft