STLR Link Roundup – November 30, 2019

DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather Settle I.C.O. Case

On Thursday, November 29, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that the boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and producer DJ Khaled would pay significant sums to settle charges that they illegally promoted investments in an unregulated cryptocurrency offering. The founders of Centra Tech, a virtual currency startup, were arrested in May and charged with defrauding investors. Centra had enlisted Mayweather and Khaled to help promote the company’s initial coin offering, through which it raised around $30 million. Mayweather agreed to return $300,000 he received from Centra to investors, as well as pay a $300,000 penalty; Khaled will return $50,000 and pay a $100,000 penalty. Their settlement comes as the SEC continues to turn its sights on the cryptocurrency market.


Up to 500 Million Customers’ Data Exposed in Marriott Hack

On Friday, November 30, Marriott International said that its reservation system had been breached and that up to 500 million customers could have had their personal data – including names, passport numbers, and birth dates – stolen. The hospitality group runs more than 6,000 hotels worldwide. Almost immediately, the New York State attorney general and European regulators launched investigations into the leak. After an internal investigation, Marriott announced that the guest database may have been breached as early as 2014.


The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s Tunnel Venture, Abandons a Los Angeles Project

After settling with local community groups who had sued the Los Angeles government, The Boring Company announced that it would withdraw its plan to open a high-speed underground test tunnel in the city. The company, which was founded by Elon Musk, had tried to exempt its plan from an environmental review process with support of the local government, prompting lawsuits from concerned community members. Other Boring Company projects remain ongoing, including a planned connection between some Los Angeles neighborhoods and Dodger Stadium.


Facebook May Have Attempted to Sell User Data to Third Parties 

According to newly-unredacted court documents, Facebook discussed trading access to its user database through its API in exchange for advertising purchases from select advertisers. A federal court case against Facebook brought by a digital advertising company alleges that Facebook contradicted its own promises that it has never sold its customers’ data. The company had previously settled with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011, promising that it would not allow third-parties to access user data that customers assumed was private.


In Secret, DOJ Argued to Break Encryption and Wiretap Facebook Voice Calls

On Wednesday, November 28, the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge in Fresno, California to make public the Department of Justice’s efforts to force Facebook to help the government wiretap voice calls made on its Messenger service. The government began making its case in August but its arguments are currently sealed per a court order. In asking for the DOJ’s brief to be released, the ACLU claimed that the “the sealing of the docket sheet in this case impermissibly prevents the public from knowing anything about the actions of both the judiciary and the executive in navigating a novel legal issue, which has the potential to reoccur in the future.” The case is United States v. Barrera-Palma et. al in Federal District Court for the Eastern District of California.

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