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On February 8, 2019, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce delivered a speech at the symposium ”Protecting the Public While Fostering Innovation and Entrepreneurship: First Principles for Optimal Regulation.” Her remarks, entitled “Regulation: A View from Inside the Machine,” provide insight into how SEC regulators currently view certain technological innovations and how they interpret and apply the Howey test as to when something is an “investment contract,” and therefore a security, for purposes of the…
On January 4, 2019, two Colorado senators introduced the “Colorado Digital Token Act,” a bill seeking to exempt digital tokens and cryptocurrencies from certain Colorado state securities laws. In filing the Colorado Digital Token Act, the senators proposed that digital tokens with a “primarily consumptive purpose” that are not marketed to be used for “speculative or investment purposes” should be exempt from certain state securities laws. The overall purpose of the proposed Colorado…
On November 16, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued a statement on the application of federal securities laws to the issuance and trading of, and investment in, digital asset securities. While the statement encourages technological innovations that benefit investors and capital markets, it emphasizes that market participants must still adhere to federal securities laws when dealing with new technologies (such as blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies) in connection with digital asset securities.…
On November 8, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it settled charges against Zachary Coburn, founder of EtherDelta, a digital token trading platform, for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. This is the SEC’s first enforcement action based on findings that a digital token trading platform operated as an unregistered national securities exchange.…
On November 8, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced that it settled charges against Zachary Coburn, founder of EtherDelta, a digital token trading platform, for operating an unregistered national securities exchange. This is the SEC’s first enforcement action based on findings that a digital token trading platform operated as an unregistered national securities exchange. The SEC’s Order (“Order”) finds that during an 18-month period, EtherDelta’s users executed more than 3.6 million orders for…
On October 16, 2018, Commissioner Brian Quintenz of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) shared his views on smart contract regulation by the CFTC. In his speech at the 38th Annual GITEX Technology Week Conference, in discussing a hypothetical where code in a smart contract was specifically designed to enable a type of activity regulated by the CFTC, and no effort was made to preclude its availability to U.S. persons, Quintenz, suggested that the CFTC…
On September 27, 2018, both the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) filed charges against Marshall Islands-based firm 1pool Ltd. (“1pool”) and its Austria-based CEO and owner, Patrick Brunner, for (i) failing to register as a security-based swaps dealer with the SEC, (ii) failing to register as a futures commission merchant (“FCM”) with the CFTC, (iii) failing to conduct its security-based swaps transactions on a registered national exchange and…
On August 10, 2018, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (the “Bureau”) announced that it had finalized amendments to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) regulations implementing a statutory change that provides an exemption for certain financial institutions from the GLBA requirement to deliver an annual privacy notice to their customers. As discussed in our post from December 2015, the exemption was created as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (Public Law 114-94) and…
On July 18, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) voted to adopt amendments to Regulation ATS that impose additional public disclosure requirements on, and enhance the SEC’s oversight of alternative trading systems (“ATSs”) that facilitate transactions in National Market System stocks (“NMS Stock ATSs”). Regulation ATS, adopted in 1998, established a regulatory framework intended to incentivize market modernization, while simultaneously carrying out the chief mandate of the SEC: protecting investors. Regulation ATS gave securities…
In his June 6, 2018, interview with CNBC, Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Chairman Jay Clayton further clarified the regulatory landscape around cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology and initial coin offerings, nothing that the SEC would not support changing the traditional definition of a security to take into account this new technology: “Where I give you my money and you go off and make a venture … and in return for me giving you my money, you…