At a glance.
- Europe versus Silicon Valley: fighting Big Tech.
- US agencies warn banks about the dangers of crypto.
- Do criminals have the right to discuss their crimes in private?
Europe versus Silicon Valley: fighting Big Tech.
Barron’s offers a rundown of the EU’s numerous attempts to moderate the tech giants of Silicon Valley, who have been criticized for using unscrupulous business practices to stamp out competitors. Last July the European Parliament established the Digital Markets Act, which threatens violators with fines of up to 10% of annual global sales, and Google was hit with over eight billion euros in fines for abusing its market dominance. The EU has similarly gone after Apple, Microsoft, and Meta for restricting users exclusive use of their services. 2018’s General Data Protection Regulation has been used to crack down on the big-hitter’s privacy violations in an effort to prevent Big Tech from using user data as a conduit to revenue, and Amazon was fined 746 million euros by Luxembourg in 2021 for privacy abuses.
US agencies warn banks about the dangers of crypto.
On Tuesday the US Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released a joint statement warning banks of the inherent risks of working with the cryptocurrency sector. “It is important that risks related to the crypto-asset sector that cannot be mitigated or controlled do not migrate to the banking system,” the regulators stated, adding that issuing or holding cryptocurrencies “is highly likely to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices.” The digital currency market has been plagued by weak governance practices and a lack of clarity on legal matters, and the recent collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange demonstrated just how fragile the market is. The statement also highlighted the perils surrounding stablecoins, which could cause sudden deposit outflows for banks that hold cash reserves for stablecoin issuers. That said, the agencies say banks “are neither prohibited nor discouraged” from providing services to crypto customers, and that they are working to find best practices that would allow banks to work with cryptocurrencies in a manner that ensures security as well as legal compliance.
Do criminals have the right to discuss their crimes in private?
Wired tells the tale of how EU police secretly infiltrated EncroChat, a European-based mobile encrypted communication platform popular among criminals seeking a secure way to discuss drug deals, kidnappings, and even murders. Led by French and Dutch forces, authorities compromised the network in 2020 by infecting it with malware, gaining access to over 100 million user messages. One of the largest hacks perpetrated by police, the operation resulted in the hundreds of arrests and thousands of kilograms of drugs seized. Fast forward to now, over two years later, and lawyers are claiming the investigations were flawed. They say the clandestine nature of the operation means data-sharing rules were violated and that the hacked messages should not have been admissible in court.
A challenge to a German case was recently sent to Europe’s highest court, and if successful, it could lead to arrest reversals and have far-reaching implications for the future of message encryption. “Even bad people have rights in our jurisdictions because we are so proud of our rule of law,” Christian Lödden, a German criminal defense lawyer who has represented many EncroChat users. “We’re not defending criminals or defending crimes. We are defending the rights of accused people.”