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EU Launches Non-Compliance Probe into Tech Giants Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet

The European Commission has initiated a non-compliance investigation into tech behemoths Apple, Meta, Amazon, and Alphabet, under the Digital Markets Act (DMA). This move, announced on March 25, comes as the Commission suspects that these companies' measures may not effectively comply with their obligations under the DMA. Specifically, EU antitrust regulators are scrutinizing Alphabet's practices concerning "steering" in its Google Play store and self-preferencing on Google Search, Apple's rules on steering in the App Store and Safari's choice screen, as well as Meta's "pay or consent model." In addition to these focal points, the Commission is delving into aspects related to Apple's new fee structure for alternative app stores and Amazon's ranking practices on its marketplace. The companies have been instructed to maintain specific documents to monitor effective implementation and compliance with their obligations. The proceedings are allotted 12 months to conclude, with potential...

Philippine SEC Takes Decisive Action Against Binance Amid Security Concerns

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered the blocking of cryptocurrency giant Binance's online presence within the country. The decision, announced on Monday, stems from the SEC's concerns over the security of Filipino investors' funds. Following a formal request to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), the SEC aims to prevent public access to Binance's website and associated platforms due to the exchange operating without the necessary license. SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino discussed the threat posed by Binance's activities, due to the absence of proper licensing. The SEC's investigation revealed that Binance had been enticing Filipino investors through promotional campaigns on social media, prompting the regulator to take action. Despite its popularity, Binance has failed to comply with Philippine regulations, lacking the required license to solicit investments or operate as a securities exchange, as mandated by the country's Securities...

NEAR Coin: Bridging AI and Blockchain at Nvidia’s Cutting-Edge Event

Last week marked a significant moment for artificial intelligence-focused altcoins, particularly with Nvidia's major announcements. At the NVIDIA GTC 2024 event, which included a segment dedicated to cryptocurrency, NEAR Protocol's co-founder Illia Polosukhin participated as a speaker. He discussed topics such as the development of AI models and the role of blockchain in this domain. During the Transforming AI panel, Nvidia's CEO Jensen Huang addressed themes like the digital economy and programmable money. Polosukhin highlighted the challenges and opportunities arising from the convergence of AI and blockchain, emphasizing the potential of decentralized open networks. NEAR Coin made an impression during the event, with a NEAR Coin official outlining their Web3 goals within the context of AI and cryptocurrency. Jensen praised NEAR, calling it "very cool." Polosukhin emphasized NEAR's large user base in the blockchain space, highlighting the integration of programmable money and value...

SEC Accuses Terraform Labs in Major Crypto Fraud Trial

In a trial at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has portrayed Terraform Labs and its co-founder, Do Kwon, as central figures in a massive financial deception that left investors in dire straits after the collapse of Terra. The trial is crucial in developmenmoment in addressing one of the crypto industry's most significant crises. The SEC alleges that Terraform Labs and Kwon engaged in a multi-billion dollar crypto asset securities fraud, leading to a lawsuit filed in February 2023. Describing Terra as a "house of cards," the SEC's legal team asserts that Terra USD (USTC) failed to maintain its peg to the US dollar, causing billions of dollars in losses and contributing to broader market turbulence in 2022. Originally scheduled for January, the trial was postponed to March, partly due to expectations of Kwon's in-person defense, though he remains in Montenegro after the country denied his extradition to the US....

Legal Challenge Against SEC’s Airdrop Regulation

The DeFi Education Fund and Beba LLC have jointly initiated legal proceedings against the US SEC to clarify the status of airdrops as non-securities offerings. They argue that the SEC's regulatory actions pose an existential threat to the crypto industry and are an overreach of its power. The lawsuit aims to halt further enforcement actions and obtain a court declaration that airdropped tokens are not securities. Beba LLC's concern over potential SEC scrutiny prompted them to take legal action to establish that their BEBA token airdrop does not constitute a security. They argue that airdropped tokens are free, lack a shared enterprise, and do not entail a reasonable expectation of profit based on the efforts of others. This legal move reflects broader industry apprehension regarding the SEC's stance on digital assets. The lawsuit also accuses the SEC, under Gary Gensler's leadership, of violating the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) by adopting a policy that broadly categorizes...

Rise of DePINs Revolutionizes Web3 Infrastructure in India

The emergence of Decentralized Physical Infrastructure Networks (DePINs) marks a significant development for Web3, operating as blockchain-based marketplaces that bring together hardware service providers from various industries. One notable player in this space is Wifi Dabba, a DePIN-based internet service provider aiming to decentralize internet access. Wifi Dabba recently announced its plans to distribute over 100,000 devices throughout India, hosted on the Solana blockchain. This initiative aims to address the challenge of internet access in a country where a significant portion of the population remains unconnected. Despite India's status as a technology hub, millions still lack regular WiFi access, highlighting the urgency of projects like DePINs. Karam Lakshman, CEO of Wifi Dabba, emphasizes the importance of widespread internet access for fostering economic growth, especially in a country with a burgeoning tech sector and significant crypto holdings. The DePIN model...

Judge Ruth Bermudez Issued Decision in Silvergate Case

In a recent development, Silvergate Bank faces a class action lawsuit brought forth by FTX users, who accuse the bank of aiding and abetting fraud in the stock market, particularly through its association with Alameda Research, an affiliated trading company. On March 20, Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro of the San Diego federal court denied Silvergate’s request to dismiss the lawsuit filed in June. The decision underscores the allegations that Silvergate was aware of FTX’s fraudulent activities but still profited from them, unjustly enriching itself at the expense of FTX users. The court's decision highlighted the significance of the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN), designed to facilitate fund transfers to crypto exchanges, which greatly benefited FTX customers. According to the judge, Silvergate had an obligation to FTX customers due to its integral role in facilitating FTX's operations. Notably, Silvergate provided banking services to both FTX and Alameda, processing transfers that...

Estonia Revamps Crypto Regulation Framework, Setting New Oversight Standards

Estonia has introduced a comprehensive overhaul of its crypto regulation framework, signaling a significant departure from its previous approach and establishing stricter oversight measures for digital asset businesses. Starting from 2026, crypto firms will fall under the rigorous surveillance of the Financial Supervision Authority, marking a shift from the previous focus solely on anti-money laundering efforts. Matis Mäeker, leader of the Financial Intelligence Unit, highlighted the necessity for crypto companies to adopt robust systems akin to traditional banks to effectively safeguard client assets. This shift in approach has led to a significant reduction in the number of crypto entities in Estonia, from thousands to around 50, reflecting the country's crackdown on non-compliant firms. The new legislation elevates operational and reporting standards while imposing fines of up to €5 million ($43,290). Finance Minister Mart Võrklaev emphasized that companies must adapt to these...

United Nations General Assembly Endorses Resolution on Artificial Intelligence

The United Nations General Assembly has endorsed a resolution concerning artificial intelligence (AI), marking a global effort to shape the development of this transformative technology. Initiated by the United States and supported by 123 countries, including China, the resolution was unanimously adopted on March 2, demonstrating broad consensus among all 193 U.N. member nations. The resolution urges countries to prioritize safeguarding human rights, protecting personal data, and monitoring AI for potential risks. While lacking legal enforceability, such resolutions serve as vital indicators of global sentiment, signaling the international community's commitment to responsible AI development. Citing concerns about AI's disruptive potential, the resolution highlights risks to democratic systems, fraudulent activities, and job displacement. It emphasizes the need to prevent the improper or malicious design, development, deployment, and use of AI systems, which could undermine human...

Google Accepts Fine from French Competition Watchdog

Google has agreed to pay a fine imposed by the French government’s competition watchdog for a previous breach of European Union intellectual property (IP) laws related to its treatment of media publishers. The French competition authority raised concerns about Google’s AI service, Gemini (formerly known as Bard), alleging that it utilized content from local publishers and news agencies without proper notification and clearance. In settlement proceedings, Google has pledged not to contest the facts, as confirmed by the watchdog. The company has also proposed a series of remedy measures to address certain shortcomings. However, Google's office in France has yet to respond to requests for comment regarding the fine. The fine is a result of a copyright dispute in France concerning online content, initiated by complaints from major news organizations such as Agence France Presse (AFP). Initially, the dispute seemed resolved in 2022 when Google dropped its appeal against an initial 500...

Sweden’s Central Bank ‘Riksbank’ Releases Final Report on Digital Krona Pilot Project

The Riksbank has published its conclusive report on the ‘digital krona’ pilot project, focusing on end-user experiences and offline functionality. Released on March 20, the report delves into a new model for offline retail transactions, diverging from the one proposed in the pilot's Phase 2, where offline transaction data was stored on mobile phones. Four primary use cases were investigated, including funding and defunding the payment instrument, offline payments at point-of-sale (POS) using near-field communication, offline transfers between two cards, and imposing limitations on card balances and transaction numbers. The usage of mobile phones for communication between cards and POS terminals posed security concerns, leading to complexities in user-to-user payments. Synchronization of payment cards after transactions was identified as a crucial issue, with potential liquidity issues if not managed correctly. To address this, counters would ensure proper synchronization and prevent...

Crackdown on Crypto Mining in Irkutsk, Russia: Illegal Miners Targeted

The Irkutsk Prosecution Service announced via Telegram that a 35-year-old crypto miner will face trial for allegedly stealing electricity in Cheremkhovo, a town in the Russian crypto mining hotspot of Irkutsk. This move comes amid a broader crackdown on illegal and quasi-legal crypto mining activities in the region. Recently, power provider Rosseti shut down 17 illegal crypto mining farms in Krasnoyarsk, Omsk, and Khakassia. Additionally, 36 "illegal" crypto mining farms were closed in the Republic of Dagestan since 2022. Similar crackdowns have occurred in nearby Abkhazia, another unofficial crypto mining hub. Irkutsk Oblast officials are hopeful that the Russian energy ministry will proceed with plans to increase energy prices for miners, aiming to discourage new miners from flocking to the region and alleviate pressure on the power grids. Prosecution officials released images of seized equipment from the 35-year-old's mining operation in Cheremkhovo. The miner is accused of...

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