SEC Settles Charges Against Two Companies for Initial Coin Offerings
On November 16, 2018, the SEC settled charges against cryptocurrency firms Paragon Coin Inc. and CarrierEQ Inc. (Airfox) for selling unregistered securities tokens. Under the terms of the settlement, both firms agreed to pay $250,000 in civil penalties and undertake efforts to compensate investors who purchased the illegally offered tokens. Paragon and Airfox must also prepare an initial disclosure within 90 days and file periodic reports to the SEC for at least one year. “We have made it clear that companies that issue securities through ICOs are required to comply with existing statutes and rules governing the registration of securities,” said Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, in a statement. Both companies plan to register their tokens as securities pursuant to the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
Senate Pushes Bill to Penalize Robocalls
On November 16, 2018, a group of senators introduced a bipartisan bill to crack down on robocall scams and spoofed phone calls. Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act would broaden the authority of the FCC to penalize those that violate telemarketing restrictions. The legislation would raise the maximum penalty for violations to $10,000 per call and would lengthen the statute of limitation from one to three years, giving the FCC more time to take action against scammers. The TRACED Act also directs agencies like the FCC, FTC, and Department of Justice to work with state attorneys general to develop methods of deterrence, and improve ways to identify and prosecute violators.
FCC Approves SpaceX Satellite Launch Plan
On November 15, 2018, the FCC approved a request by SpaceX to launch more than 7,000 satellites into orbit. By overcoming this regulatory hurdle, SpaceX now has permission to launch its full constellation of nearly 12,000 satellites into orbit. “From providing high-speed broadband services in remote areas to offering global connectivity to the Internet of Things through ‘routers in space’ for data backhaul, I’m excited to see what services these proposed constellations have to offer,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a statement.
DNA Startup Embraces Blockchain
A startup called Nebula Genomics is currently positioning itself as an alternative to 23AndMe and Ancestry, offering genome reports to interested consumers. The company is trying to connect consumers with researchers looking to identify the genetic predictors of disease and develop drugs. However, unlike its competitors, Nebula users will have total control of their data and how its used thanks to blockchain and encryption technologies. If researchers want to access data, Nebula users will know who is making the request and what they want to do with the information, allowing them to make a choice on whether to grant permission to study the data. And those that do provide consent to researchers will be compensated for their information.
An Uptick in Autonomous Weapons Development?
A recent New York Times article outlined the development of autonomous weapons and the arguments for and against their future use in war. The article comes only a few days after the UK’s Ministry of Defense announced that it would begin testing over 70 technologies including unmanned aerial surveillance drones and autonomous ground vehicles. In China, a group of 31 students have been recruited to participate in an artificial intelligence weapons development program at the Beijing Institute of Technology. Despite a vow by thousands of the world’s leading artificial intelligence experts not to develop autonomous weapons earlier this year, it appears that countries are still invested in the expansion of their autonomous technologies programs.