Pretty much from the introduction of Satoshi’s cleverly constructed currency, industry players and observers alike have waited to see how exactly the increasing population of digital assets would be categorized and regulated. Slotting “disruptive” technologies into existing regulatory regimes is hardly a swift process, but there has been some recent movement on behalf of U.S. regulators and Congress. In “All Eyes Are on Regulation of Digital Assets as Federal Agencies and Lawmakers Seek to Bring Clarity,” colleagues Cassie Lentchner, Daniel N. Budofsky and Aaron R. Hutman break down some of that activity. In the first of three alerts on the matter, they look in particular at the SEC’s recent no-action letter involving tokens released by the gaming company, A Pocketful of Quarters.
A sponsored post popped up on my Instagram last week that captured my obsession with statement jewelry and my periodic check on developments in facial recognition technology: “Artist Designs Metal Jewelry to Block Facial Recognition Software from Tracking You”. Statement jewelry? Check. An indication of how stressed out people are by facial recognition technology? I think so. While an experimental project, it’s not a far stretch to imagine the design actually being sold and purchased.
In case you don’t know, William Gibson is the prescient science fiction author who effectively coined the terms “the matrix” and “cyberspace” as we currently use them, way back in the early 1980s. He also predicted augmented reality applications. In his 2007 novel, Spook Country, a character has taken to creating “locative art” installations in the real world that can be viewed only through mobile devices that use the GPS grid to create a virtual overlay on top of the real world as recorded through the device. For example, the artist recreates the scene of River Phoenix’s death, complete with annotations, that can be seen when the viewing device is brought to the real-world location where Phoenix died and aimed at the spot where his body was found. A character in the book describes such locative art this way: “Spatially tagged hypermedia. The artist annotating every centimeter of a place, of every physical thing. Visible to all, on devices such as these.” Today, we simply call that “augmented reality”—or AR for short.
It’s sometimes hard to gauge the full impact something “new” will have on an industry over the long term as it transitions from “What in the world?!” to “But of course!” in the minds of the general public. For investors, owners and other participants in the relatively new arena of esports, though, the question of whether or when its popularity will surpass that of traditional leagues like the NFL and NBA is less important than ensuring their businesses and business models are sufficiently protected. Over on Pillsbury’s Policyholder Pulse blog, our own Kim Buffington explores the “traditional” insurance needs of the competitive gaming industry in “As Investment in Esports Grows, Insurance Coverage Must Keep Up.”
Since January, Bureau of Industry (BIS) officials have been formulating an analytical framework for establishing controls on emerging technologies (which include biotechnology, artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, quantum information and sensing technology, additive manufacturing, and robotics). Recently on the Global Trade & Sanctions Law blog, colleagues Nancy A. Fischer, Stephan E. Becker, Matthew R. Rabinowitz and Sahar J. Hafeez provided an update on the process, while explaining why the timing of the rule will matter for companies for which export controls (and CFIUS) are a concern.
Efforts to regulate cross-device tracking have increased since we last addressed the topic in 2017, following the release of the FTC’s Staff Report. Significant developments include the implementation and enforcement of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), and the fast-approaching implementation deadline for the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These regulations, while not targeting cross-device tracking specifically, seek to limit the way in which consumer data is tracked and sold.
Two years ago, we wrote about a possible First Amendment challenge involving Donald Trump’s practice of blocking certain Twitter users from his @realDonaldTrump account. While it was unclear at the time of our post whether the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University—an organization that uses strategic litigation to preserve the freedoms of speech and the press—would pursue further action, the Knight Institute filed a complaint a few days later in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Trump, then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer and Daniel Scavino, the White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President. On July 9, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision regarding this First Amendment issue.
For all the excitement and promise of blockchain-based technology, it’s vital to remember that the very “newness” of a technology can lead to issues of basic legal compatibility. Few if any technologies magically create their own regulatory framework whole cloth, after all. For this reason, technology providers wishing to use the blockchain—or related distributed ledger technology (DLT)—in their own offerings necessarily must pay careful attention to how their particular blockchain-based technology will interact with the established (and evolving) contracts, laws and customer expectations encountered in the marketplace. Here are three of the biggest issues that await providers: