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Bitcoin and a host of cryptocurrencies have taken both Wall Street and Main Street by storm in 2017.  The nearly continuous gains in the price of Bitcoin have spawned numerous imitators and led a number of companies to raise critical start-up funds by selling their own token/cryptocurrency in a process similar to an initial public offering (IPO): the initial coin offering (ICO). Raising funds via an ICO is attractive because of its nearly completely unregulated structure, which allows companies to raise significantly larger sums and at a significantly earlier stage than standard IPOs. However, because of ICOs’ similarity to IPOs and to securities offerings in general, ICOs have attracted the scrutiny of federal regulators (most notably, the SEC and CFTC). This scrutiny poses the risk of shutting down the ICO market and other nascent cryptocurrencies. This regulatory scrutiny arises primarily from concerns with transparency and security risks, and whether adequate consumer protections exist in the current ICO process. What are the Risks?
  • Hacking
Cryptocurrencies often tout that the process is super secure because... Read more

The unregulated nature of virtual currencies like Bitcoin plays a big role in their appeal. However, wild swings in prices in addition to the perception that these markets are subject to manipulation, make it difficult—if not impossible—for the average person to rely heavily on Bitcoin and other virtual currencies as a currency, much less as… Read More

Cryptocurrency is the latest trend to be embraced by celebrities, so much so that the federal government this month issued a warning about the possible risks involved.  Both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have made clear that if a celebrity is being paid to promote a product… Read More

Deadline Fast Approaches for Final DMCA Registration
November 7, 2017

Deadline Fast Approaches for Final DMCA Registration

By: Steven Eichorn

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a safe harbor from copyright infringement liability for online service providers. While not a particularly famous law, it is a critical law because it enables websites to accommodate user-generated content without being concerned for copyright infringement claims by hosting that content. However, in order to preserve their safe… Read More

Congress Saves Consumer Arbitration
October 25, 2017

Congress Saves Consumer Arbitration

By: George Calhoun

In July 2017, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (“CPFB”) announced a new rule broadly barring arbitration provisions in a wide swath of consumer contracts.  See 12 CFR part 1040.  To go into effect next Spring, the final rule would have prohibited providers of certain consumer financial products and services from using an agreement with… Read More

GDPR D-Day:  If Not Prepared, It Could Cost You Europe
September 26, 2017

GDPR D-Day: If Not Prepared, It Could Cost You Europe

By: Nicole Kardell

GDPR D-Day: May 25, 2018. If you are not prepared, the results could cost you Europe. In the U.S., we’ve had a pretty business-friendly approach to consumer data protection. And while federal and state authorities have their respective consumer protection laws, there is no single federal law that clearly defines U.S. policy on how consumer… Read More

ICOs: Proceed with Caution
July 25, 2017

ICOs: Proceed with Caution

By: Steven Eichorn and Jessica Feil

Today, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an investor bulletin and an investigative report. The investigative report found that companies involved in sales of digital assets via distributed ledger or blockchain technology may be engaged in conduct subject to federal securities laws. While this report is the first of its kind to address initial… Read More

The FTC’s Role in Privacy
April 22, 2017

The FTC’s Role in Privacy

By: Nicole Kardell

Acting Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Maureen Ohlhausen, answered questions about the FTC’s current role in data privacy before a crowded audience at the April 2017 IAPP Global Privacy Summit in D.C.  Below are some take-aways we wanted to share from Commissioner Ohlhausen’s talk: Even if out of ISP oversight, the FTC is actively… Read More

D.C. Circuit v. FCC – More Pushback to Come?
April 17, 2017

D.C. Circuit v. FCC – More Pushback to Come?

By: Michelle Cohen

Over the past several years, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) took an expansive view of its rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (“TCPA”). The TCPA bars certain calls, texts and faxes without prior express consent and requires disclosures and opt-out procedures.  While the FCC and state attorney generals may enforce the TCPA,… Read More

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