A U.S. federal district court judge on Tuesday, November 29 ordered Coinbase Inc., the largest cryptocurrency exchange and storage platform in the world, to provide information about certain of its account holders to the U.S. Internal Revenue Services (IRS).  Information pertaining to as many as 14,355 account holders and 8.9 million transactions could be covered in this order, according to estimates provided by Coinbase.  The full order by Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California can be found here.

While a significant milestone in a protracted legal battle between Coinbase and the IRS, the order handed down by Judge Corley is considerably narrower than what the IRS had originally requested.  The information Coinbase must provide is limited to the holder’s name, date of birth, taxpayer identification number (TIN), and address; the date, amount, type of transaction, post-transaction balance, and names of counterparties to any transaction covered by the order; and periodic account statements for the covered accounts.  Significantly, only account holders that have bought, sold, sent, or received cryptocurrency worth $20,000 or more in any tax year from 2013 to 2015 are covered by the order. 

In his remarks at a recent Practicing Law Institute program on securities regulation, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton once again addressed Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs.  Mr. Clayton highlighted several issues in particular, including that in his view there is a lack of information about many online platforms that list and trade virtual coins or tokens offered and sold in ICOs, and that trading of tokens on these platforms is susceptible to price manipulation and other fraudulent trading practices.

Negotiations between television channels/networks and pay TV operators are a breed apart.  The stakes are high and the consequence of failure – a “dark” screen – is all too public.

But the critical factor that sets these negotiations apart is the actual regulation of the negotiations under three main categories of rules.

  • Broadcasters may invoke “Must Carry” status or seek to negotiate terms for “retransmission” under FCC rules requiring “good faith” negotiations.
  • Program Carriage rules protect channels and networks from certain abuses by operators. Conversely, Program Access rules ensure operators have certain rights to license programming.
  • The FCC also has issued a series of orders in connection with mergers and other transactions, some of which allow an arbitrator to pick one offer or the other in “night” baseball-style arbitration when certain networks and operators cannot agree on terms of carriage.

On August 26, 2016, the FCC Media Bureau ruled that broadcasters are limited to the first bucket above, the Must Carry/Retransmission Consent rules. (In re Liberman Broadcasting, Inc. v. Comcast Corp., MB Docket No. 16-121 (Aug. 26, 2016).  This is significant because it comes in the midst of an ongoing debate over the Retransmission Consent rules and the FCC’s “totality of the circumstances” test.  Generally speaking, a party to a retransmission consent negotiation may seek to demonstrate, based on the “totality of the circumstances” of a particular retransmission consent negotiation, that the other party breached its duty to negotiate in good faith.  Under the Media Bureau’s ruling, broadcasters may look solely to the Retransmission Consent rules to regulate their carriage negotiations.

On August 29th, a Ninth Circuit panel unanimously held that the FTC has no power to challenge “throttling” of unlimited data plan customers by mobile broadband providers as an “unfair or deceptive act.”  The panel found that a core source of FTC authority (Section 5 of the FTC Act) does not apply to any “common carriers” that are subject to regulation under the Communications Act of 1934.  (FTC v. AT&T Mobility LLC, No. 14-04785 (9th Cir. Aug. 29, 2016)).

The big data revolution is quietly chugging along:  devices, sensors, websites and networks are collecting and producing significant amounts of data, the cost of data storage continues to plummet, public and private sector interest in data mining is growing, data computational and statistical methods have advanced, and more and more

Digital media marketers are aggressively increasing the use of so-called sponsored content, or native advertising to reach new customers.  Particularly with the growing use of ad blockers on web and mobile browsers, marketers have sought to present advertising in a new form that can circumvent automated blocking and somehow capture