SEC Reiterates: Crowdfunding Not Legal Yet
The SEC issued an official comment emphasizing that crowdfunding is not yet legal. The JOBS Act has passed, and it makes crowdfunding legal, but not until the SEC issues a number of rules proscribed by the legislation. Congress wrote into the bill that the SEC had 270 days to promulgate these proscribed rules. The SEC’s statement reads:
“On April 5, 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law. The Act requires the Commission to adopt rules to implement a new exemption that will allow crowdfunding. Until then, we are reminding issuers that any offers or sales of securities purporting to rely on the crowdfunding exemption would be unlawful under the federal securities laws.”
Google’s latest release, Google Drive, is a Dropbox competitor. Free data storage in the cloud is great, but what rights are you granting to Google when you store your documents on their servers? Many are already voicing their concerns. Google Drive is governed by Google’s Universal Terms of Service under which you “retain your ownership rights to all the content you store with Google.” But, you grant Google,
“A worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps).”
It’s a bit of a contradiction to state that you retain ownership rights but grant a license to another to use your content, since one of your ownership rights is exclusive use. According to the terms of the service you grant Google a permanent license (note: the license continues even if you stop using Google services) to publicly display your content. So you might want to think twice before storing anything sensitive on their servers. However, the license is only granted for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving Google services, so it’s unlikely that Google would ever display your content. Moreover, with the volume of documents they have on their servers the likelihood of any Google employee actually reading any particular document is probably pretty close to zero.
Federal Regulation of the Internet
Remember SOPA & PIPA? Meet CISPA–the Latest Horrifying Attempt to Federally Regulate the Internet
The House of Representatives just passed CISPA (Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act), which is being promoted as a bill that’s necessary for national security, but many, including myself, think the bill goes too far. The bill provides that ”notwithstanding any other provision of law,” companies may share cyber threat information “with any other entity, including the federal government.” The not withstanding any other provision of law part of the sentence, means that CISPA overrides all other privacy laws. If CISPA passes, all online privacy regulations, including those dealing with wiretaps and the protection of sensitive health care information, are out the window because companies can share information with any other entity, including the federal government. What exactly constitutes “cyber threat information” is unclear (it is a defined term in the bill, but the scope of the definition would turn on judicial interpretation). Certainly, one could imagine a very broad swath of data being characterized as “cyber threat information.” Luckily, the bill hasn’t passed the senate, and will be vetoed by the President, if it reaches his desk.