SEC Fines Facebook $100 Million Over Misuse of User Data

The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Facebook $100 million to settle a case related to Cambridge Analytica, which in 2014-2015 collected Facebook data — including names, genders, locations, birthdays and “page likes” — of about 30 million Americans to create “personality scores” and ultimately use it for Donald Trump’s presidential election campaign. When Facebook discovered this misuse of data in 2015, it didn’t reveal what had happened for two years, during which time it presented the issue of data misuse as hypothetical. Continue reading SEC Fines Facebook $100 Million Over Misuse of User Data

New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange Is Approved by the SEC

U.S. regulators have approved a new stock exchange originally introduced to the Securities and Exchange Commission last year by tech entrepreneur Eric Ries, who raised $19 million from VCs for his project. The new Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE) will provide tech firms with options to traditional New York exchanges. The “Silicon Valley-based national securities exchange” is “promoting what it says is a unique approach to governance and voting rights, while reducing short-term pressures on public companies,” reports Reuters. Continue reading New Silicon Valley Stock Exchange Is Approved by the SEC

Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

According to Forrester Research, many blockchain-based software projects are ending this year and 90 percent of them will never be integrated into the companies’ operations. Blockchain/cryptocurrencies advocate Nasdaq stated in 2016 that it would deploy blockchain for voting in shareholder meetings, but has yet to deploy any large-scale project. The initial enthusiasm over blockchain seems to be dying down, while some traders are manipulating cryptocurrency prices to enrich them but leave investors in the cold. Continue reading Adoption of Blockchain Technology Is Slower Than Expected

Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

The British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) levied the toughest fine possible — 500,000 pounds (or about $660,000) — against Facebook for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the personal data of millions of people without their consent. The ICO, the agency that enforces the United Kingdom’s data protection laws, began investigating Facebook’s possible misuse of personal data in May 2017, but revelations of the Cambridge Analytica incident spurred it to complete its examination. Continue reading Facebook Faces First Fine for Cambridge Analytica Scandal

Bipartisan Support in Congress for Cryptocurrency Regulation

Congress is considering federal rules for cryptocurrency to impose a federal oversight that has thus far been lacking. In the Senate and the House, both Democrats and Republicans — even free-market conservative Republicans — are addressing the risks highlighted by recent events involving fraud and hacking. All parties see the potential risk to the U.S. economy posed by speculative trading of the various popular virtual currencies. Lawmakers propose that the Securities and Exchange Commission lead the issues. Continue reading Bipartisan Support in Congress for Cryptocurrency Regulation

Cryptocurrencies Are Experiencing a Significant Drop in Value

Those who doubted virtual currency have had their worst fears confirmed: cryptocurrency’s value has plummeted 50 percent from its peak in early January, pushing Bitcoin, for example, below $7,000. Among the problems bedeviling virtual currencies are hackers, scams and Ponzi schemes. Now, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission are scheduled to testify to the Senate banking committee about how they have been trying to corral cryptocurrency markets. Continue reading Cryptocurrencies Are Experiencing a Significant Drop in Value

New SEC Cyber Unit Takes on Cryptocurrency and ICO Fraud

At the Securities and Exchange Commission, chairman Jay Clayton made it clear that there is “very little distinction” between Bitcoin and traditional stocks, suggesting that the SEC believes Bitcoin is subject to securities laws and is willing to act against alleged fraud in an ICO, or initial coin offering. In fact, the SEC new cyber unit did just that for the first time, charging Canada-based cryptocurrency company PlexCorps with violating security laws by selling up to $15 million in an ICO. Clayton said future suits are possible. Continue reading New SEC Cyber Unit Takes on Cryptocurrency and ICO Fraud

Hollywood Producer Plans Initial Coin Offering to Fund Films

Producer Christopher Woodrow (“Birdman,” “Black Mass,” “Hacksaw Ridge”) is about to launch MovieCoin, his own blockchain token, based on his certainty that the cryptocurrency will revolutionize filmmaking. Monies raised in the initial coin offering (ICO) in Q1 2018 will be used to produce a slate of films. Investors, says Woodrow, will benefit because the tokens, which can be traded, will appreciate as the film succeeds. He is currently developing projects that will include top movie stars, directors and producers. Continue reading Hollywood Producer Plans Initial Coin Offering to Fund Films

SEC Rules That Blockchain Tokens Are Regulated Securities

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ruled that blockchain tokens sold through token sales are to be classified as securities, a ruling that was anticipated and that will have a powerful impact on projects looking to fundraise from U.S. investors. The ruling follows an investigation of The DAO, which raised a record-breaking ICO (Initial Coin Offering) last May and then lost one-third of it in a hack. As a result, part of the Ethereum community executed a rollback transaction of the DAO fundraising; The DAO has since been delisted. Continue reading SEC Rules That Blockchain Tokens Are Regulated Securities

SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

The Securities and Exchange Commission has opened an investigation into Yahoo’s highly-publicized data breaches and whether the company should have disclosed the massive hacks earlier. “The SEC requires companies to disclose cybersecurity risks as soon as they are determined to have an effect on investors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo’s 2014 breach, disclosed in September 2016, involved data from at least 500 million users. In December 2016, the company revealed that more than 1 billion Yahoo user accounts had been breached in 2013. “The SEC has investigated multiple companies over whether they properly disclosed hacks,” notes WSJ, especially after the 2013 Target breach “that compromised up to 70 million credit and debit-card accounts.” Continue reading SEC Opens Investigation into Massive Yahoo Data Breaches

High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has confidentially filed for its IPO, according to sources familiar with the matter. The four-year old messaging app could go public as early as March 2017, in what is expected to be one of the highest-profile stock debuts in years, and one that could potentially convince other tech startups to test public markets. The Venice, California-based company is looking to raise as much as $4 billion, with a valuation in the $25 billion range, which could make it the largest U.S.-listed tech offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in 2014. Continue reading High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Alamo Drafthouse, Legion M Team Up to Produce Film, TV, VR

In a newly inked deal, Alamo Drafthouse, the indie theater chain/film distributor, will place executives on the advisory board of startup studio Legion M to evaluate scripts and talent for feature films, shorts, and virtual reality experiences among other potential entertainment projects. Alamo and Legion M portray their agreement as a revolutionary way for fans to become key stakeholders in the success; thus far, Legion M has raised $400,000 from accredited investors and nearly $141,000 from fans. Continue reading Alamo Drafthouse, Legion M Team Up to Produce Film, TV, VR

SEC Greenlights Crowdfunding for Startups, Keeps Watchful Eye

After three years of consideration, the Securities and Exchange Commission now allows ordinary investors to take equity stakes in startups through crowdfunding. The move began with the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or JOBS Act, to assist startups and small businesses to raise capital from potential investors. But, until last week, only investors whose net worth was greater than $1 million (excluding their primary residences) or earned more than $200,000 a year were permitted to invest via crowdfunding. Continue reading SEC Greenlights Crowdfunding for Startups, Keeps Watchful Eye

Will the Proposed American Jobs Act Have an Impact on Crowdfunding?

  • Part of President Obama’s proposed American Jobs Act includes exempting small businesses that receive startup funds through “crowdfunding” from having to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission.
  • If the newly proposed $447 billion plan was to pass through Congress, it could impact services such as Kickstarter, possibly turning the “crowdfunding” model into an “investment mechanism for a whole new generation of small business,” suggests Digital Trends.
  • The plan would allow individuals to invest in a piece of the company (instead of the current model that offers rewards such as an early-run edition of the product), but without the company having to pay SEC fees.
  • “…[G]adget-makers are already using crowdfunding platforms to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in pure donations – imagine the possibilities if these small-dollar donors became investors with a stake in the venture,” reads a post on WhiteHouse.gov.
  • Kickstarter, for example, has already helped more than 10,000 projects by raising more than $75 million in pledges. Digital Trends indicates that currently, “Out of all projects submitted to Kickstarter, 44 percent go on to meet their fundraising goals.”
  • Details of the plan can be found in a White House website post on innovation and entrepreneurship.