The IRS has secured a partial victory in its long-running court case to obtain trading and personal details of users on the Coinbase platform. A Californian federal court has ruled that Coinbase must surrender records identifying users who have bought, sold, sent or received over $20,000 through their accounts between 2013 and 2015 with Coinbase estimating that over 14,000 users meet this standard.
This is a massive development within the cryptocurrency world as it potentially opens the door to an unravelling of the principles of anonymity that are highly valued by users. The ruling has been condemned by many in the cryptocurrency community who have framed the decision as a gross invasion of privacy and sweeping use of government power. The IRS has hit back at these claims by pointing to the difference between Coinbase user data and the number of US citizens reporting cryptocurrency transactions to the IRS, suggesting that the IRS thinks there is a significant amount of tax evasion occurring among holders of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
This is not just a significant development for holders of cryptocurrencies in the US but could have substantial repercussions globally. Cryptocurrencies currently exist in a legal grey area especially concerning taxation and regulators around the world are likely to follow the US regarding the growing legal framework around cryptocurrency trading.
ExxonMobil under Shareholder Pressure
The world’s largest oil group has agreed to publish the impact of climate policies on its bottom line.
In recent years, shareholders of the world’s largest oil and gas conglomerates have been pushing companies to publish analysis of the threat they face from climate change and the threat of green policies. In a regulatory filing, Exxon announced that it would change how it reports its results to include a paper on how climate policies are hurting its business. The proposal was backed by around 60% of Exxon’s shareholders back in May, which was led by the New York state employees’ retirement fund. The move follows Exxon’s gradual shift towards addressing climate change; in the 90s, the group campaigned against the Kyoto protocol but has since committed to reducing emissions.
DeepMind Allays Musk’s Fears
The Alphabet-owned startup has developed AI software that can detect if other algorithms are cheating or being excessively risky.
DeepMind has put AI software through a series of games that assess whether algorithms can learn to cheat. The safety tests coincide with many tech leaders, such as Elon Musk, calling for greater oversight of AI technology and more research into any potentially adverse unintended consequences of its application. DeepMind is at the forefront of AI development and has built algorithms that can beat world-class board game players after just a few hours of learning a game. The latest safety tests suggest that DeepMind is taking fears seriously as it moves towards building general purpose AI.
Apple Buys Shazam
Apple has agreed to purchase Shazam, an app that identifies songs.
Shazam has been used for years by people who want to identify songs that they hear in various bars, parties and clubs. Now, it has been bought by Apple for around $400m. However, this is not the news that many investors in the 18-year-old UK-based company, such as VC firm Kleiner Perkins, wanted to hear since Shazam was valued at $1bn during its 2015 funding round. However, others in the VC world have pointed out that valuations are often nothing more than sales gimmicks and that a company is only a unicorn once it has actually been sold for more than $1bn.
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