March 7, 2018 may have come and gone as just a regular day for many of us, but for those on Wall Street, it marked the beginning of a major victory. On March 7the Senate passed a bipartisan bill known as the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which effectively rolls back parts of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (“Dodd-Frank”), the most comprehensive and complex financial reform since the Great Depression. Since its enactment in 2010, Dodd-Frank has been a source of great contention among politicians, financial experts, and American citizens alike and as expected, this proposed rollback has reignited the longstanding debate.
On January 27, 2018, The New York Times reported its investigatory findings on Devumi, a company selling fake twitter follower and retweets some of which are based on profiles of real people. Amassing social media followers has become a commodity. The more followers or retweets, the more influence an individual is purported to have. In turn, companies pay “influencers” to advertise their products or services to their followers. “Infuencers” have made access to consumers a monetized commodity, similar to the way television networks commoditized access to TV viewers for advertisers.
In Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, the Supreme Court of the United States narrowly defined whistleblower protections under the Dodd-Frank Act. In the opinion, issued February 21, 2018, all the justices found that the text of Dodd-Frank expressly limits the definition of whistleblowers to those who report suspected fraud to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”).In short, employees who informed their supervisors, but not the SEC, are not availed of whistleblower protection.
The recent captivation with virtual currencies raises uncertainties for our markets as well as our legal system. Cryptocurrencies, block-chain initiatives and digital currency technologies have rattled nearly every industry with a rippling effect. While digital currencies, such as Bitcoin, have attained rapid success seemingly overnight, many legal questions and concerns are left in its wake. The lack of clarity surrounding the regulation and legality of digital currencies lends itself to unlawful conduct. Additionally, global forces have adopted different approaches to digital currencies, from legalization to outright banning its usage. The lack of a universal approach to virtual currencies only contributes to the confusion. As a result, industries, regulators and lawmakers are tasked with implementing new rules in order to account for the new-age currency. As markets and investors continue to capitalize on the market success of cryptocurrencies, the debate over necessary over sight and potential legal dilemmas continues.
In the United States, antitrust litigation is not solely a matter of government concern. In fact, antitrust enforcement is a tool strategically used by private parties as part of business operations in the United States. By increasing litigation costs, potential damages, risk of suit, and regulatory oversight costs, antitrust litigation can be an impediment on businesses. Further, fear of litigation and associated costs stifles new product development and production in the United States by creating a high barrier to entry in the form of regulatory costs and significant risk of liability. With the number of antitrust cases rising annually, the negative impact on businesses should be of concern for enforcers especially as the number of private claims grows. Properly applied antitrust laws allow both government and private parties the ability to stop or hinder abuses of market power by participants seeking anticompetitive advantages.
Equifax, one of the big three credit monitoring firms, collects information, including addresses, driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, utility accounts, birth and death records, criminal records, medical debt, and rental history. The entirety of this confidential information has now been compromised due to a massive data breach on September 7, 2017. This breach not only poses imminent danger to consumers’ identities, but also a lifelong risk of identity theft. Within one week of the breach, the domino effect began: both the chief information officer and chief security officer’s retirement was made effective immediately. Since the large-scale breach that exposed personal data of over 143 million people, consumers and shareholders initiated dozens of lawsuits. As a result, Equifax’s stock price dropped 27% in response to the controversy. Moreover, it has come to light that Equifax dealt with a breach earlier this year in March; however, details of the exposed data were not released by the company.