Blog / Internet
Recently, the Ministry of Communications ordered Bezeq to begin implementing a “wholesale market” and selling its competitors access to telephony infrastructure at a regulated price. The objective of this directive is to expand competition in the fixed-line telephone market and to establish a separation between the infrastructure market and the communications services being purchased by consumers.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation is designed to help individuals better control their personal data. As this regulation applies also to those that offer products or services in the EU, major websites have begun updating their privacy policies to comply. Doing so is important for a number of reasons.
Governments around the world say they are being pushed into creating regulatory frameworks to force tech giants to comply with laws. A regulatory net is closing in. And the types and effectiveness of these regulations and controls are set to evolve over the coming years.
Net Neutrality represents the way that the internet has worked thus far. It is the principle that the internet service providers, such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T, cannot discriminate or charge different amounts according to users, content, platform, application, equipment used, or methods of communication.
Sports Tech – When Sports Join Up with Technological Innovation
December 24, 2017 / by Danny Boguslavsky
December 24, 2017 / by Danny Boguslavsky
In recent years, tremendous progress has been made in introducing know-how and technology into sports – despite this being a conservative world concerned that the introduction of new powers might compromise the ethos of sportsmanship.
Adv. Anat Even-Chen lectures on the accessibility of online services. She discusses for whom the regulations apply, the guidelines and what is required to be accessible, who is liable legally, the sanctions prescribed in the regulations, and the most important ones to implement.
Glossary for Beginners in the World of Digital Currency
November 30, 2017 / by Karin Kashi
November 30, 2017 / by Karin Kashi
Do you keep hearing people talk about blockchain, bitcoins, and ICOs with no idea what they mean? - Here’s a short glossary to help you understand what the fuss is all about. Decentralized coins/digital coins These coins are basically digital money that is secured through encryption technology (cryptocurrency). Digital currencies are not issued or managed by any country or central bank. Thus, their value is not under their control, but rather is determined by the agreement of and according to the demand among the network of users. Bitcoin The bitcoin is the first digital currency used, and the first and most famous application of blockchain technology. Digital wallet A digital wallet is software that is linked to the digital currency network. It enables the user to hold, transfer, and receive digital currencies. Every digital wallet has two “keys”-a public key and a private key. The public key corresponds to the bank account number, i.e. the address to which the money is transferred. The private key is the key to the safe. Only its owner can perform transactions with the digital currency in the wallet. Blockchain Blockchain is a technological concept that enables secure activity on the internet without needing a central management entity. Blockchain serves as a digital ledger of all the transactions performed on it since it began. The information maintained in blockchain is stored in cells called blocks, which are linked together in chronological order (in a "chain of blocks"). Upon completing any transaction in blockchain, it is documented and automatically stored in the devices of all users of the system. The structure of blockchain technology and its decentralized nature provide the structural security of the blockchain. The chaining of the blocks does not enable information stored in blockchain to be altered without changing the definitions of all subsequent blocks in the system, which is practically impossible. Moreover, the decentralized nature of blockchain does not allow for the system to be compromised without taking control of the majority of the devices connected to blockchain, which, due to the number of users of the bitcoin blockchain, is practically impossible as well. Blocks Blocks are storage units in which all information maintained in blockchain is stored. So, if blockchain is likened to an accounting ledger, then the blocks are pages in the ledger. The blocks that comprise blockchain are linked to each other using a complex mathematical puzzle, making it nearly impossible to alter information saved in blockchain. Bitcoin mining Bitcoin mining is the process by which bitcoin transactions are verified and documented in the bitcoin’s blockchain. The mining process is performed by a particular type of users of the bitcoin system, known as “miners”. The mining process basically involves solving a mathematical puzzle. The miner who solves it first creates the next block. The first miner who succeeds in solving the puzzle is rewarded for his successful mining with bitcoins and sometimes also with transaction fees. Virtual coin offerings or Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) An ICO is a crowdfunding channel. An ICO is a process where entrepreneurs who are developing platforms or projects raise money in exchange for digital coins. The digital coins give the projects' investors the right to use the platforms developed in projects funded by the ICO. Additionally, the digital coins provide liquidity to investors in ICO projects, since they are tradable assets in the secondary market. Smart contracts Smart contracts are considered the most dramatic application of blockchain technology. They represent a promise to change the way traditional processes are carried out, characterized typically by a dependence on middlemen. A smart contract is a computer protocol that enables two strangers on the internet to conduct business in a way that is secure and reliable. Since smart contracts are based on blockchain technology, they can reliably and securely complete operations on the internet without involving middlemen. Source: barlaw.co.il
Fintech combines for the first time the worlds of financial services and technology, as banks and insurance companies serve as fintech’s main playing fields. As such, both sectors must become more efficient and acquire the technological solutions that will help them fulfill their roles. Fintech promises to bring innovation to existing players, but also threatens to disrupt conservative industries and replace them with new models and players. The connection between the two components of fintech has proved challenging, in light of the fundamental differences in the characters of these two components. Technological solutions are provided by startup companies that, by nature, are small organizations driven by the need to work quickly and efficiently, due to the short time-to-market and the requirement to sell and recruit capital. On the other hand, the MVPs in the financial services sector are large, hierarchic organizations characterized by sluggish bureaucracy that negates rapid decision-making and agility in implementing innovative solutions. Regulation and Fintech Fintech companies operate in a regulation-intensive environment, and this is the first main challenge, because regulations essentially define their ventures and their feasibility. On the other hand, in most of the technological fields that startup companies engage in, the challenges are innovation, competition, and the business model. Regulation is less of a challenge, if one at all. The dominant role of regulation in the fintech sector is unique. Therefore, gaining in-depth knowledge of the synergies between regulation and fintech is critical during any analysis of a fintech venture’s prospects. And the venture must know how to maintain compliance with the various regulations in order to succeed. By their very nature, financial services are subject to a wide range of meticulous regulations. The types of regulations that affect fintech include banking regulations, insurance regulations, and the prevention of money laundering, as well as privacy, consumer, and securities regulations. The various regulatory categories in the financial services sector follow and are adapted to the structure of the traditional market, with each sector being closely governed and controlled by its own set of regulations and regulatory authority. In many instances, fintech strives to resolve the problems created by existing regulations, but it also must keep in mind that its operations are subject to those same regulatory systems. Already at the stage of defining the product and service a fintech venture wishes to launch on the market, it must familiarize itself with the relevant regulations. It then must find solutions that comply with the regulatory conditions, as well as that enable it to obtain approval from the relevant regulatory authority. There are numerous dimensions to gaining familiarity with the regulations. First of all, similarly to every startup company, fintech ventures are also striving to go multinational and operate in a variety of countries. The problem is that regulations in one country are different and sometimes contradict the regulations in another country. The differences are in language, laws, and even approach. This means that the learning and compliance process is multi-dimensional and, in essence, an unending task. If this were not enough, another problem is that regulations are drafted based on the structure of the conservative market—banking regulations for banks, insurance regulations for insurance companies, and so forth. On the other hand, in many instances, fintech ventures disrupt the structure of the traditional market. This disruption, by its very nature, creates new connections and approaches. As a result, fintech companies find themselves in a minefield of differing, overlapping, and contradictory regulations. However, the regulatory challenge is not just difficult, but also a main foundation for creating value. Any fintech venture that has already become well-versed in the subject, and has adjusted its solution to the various regulations, creates a real advantage over existing and new competitors. The entry barrier to this sector is not only the development stage, but rather the strength of the regulatory solution. In essence, regulatory knowledge actually becomes intellectual property. For example, the banking sector is characterized as a regulation-intensive sector. The banking supervisor’s regulations relate to various aspects of banking corporations’ operations, including licensing, corporate governance, various regulations relating to capital adequacy and banks’ capacity to assume various risks, consumer regulations relating to banks’ relations with their customers, the prohibition of money laundering, and more. Any fintech venture seeking to interface with the banking system, to provide it services or replace some of the banks’ roles, must be well-versed in the relevant local regulations and ensure its compliance with them. Clearly, the greater the challenge, the greater the potential. Privacy and Fintech During the coming year, new and enhanced privacy-protection and information-security regulation systems are expected to come into effect throughout the world. These are headed by the European GDPR, which deals with privacy protection and will take effect in May 2018. As a result of these processes, the issues of privacy and database protection against cyber risks will have an impact and a presence on the technological agenda in the coming years. Fintech ventures create solutions that make use of sensitive personal information. As such, the ventures are engaging in fields that are exposed to privacy and database issues. Basically, all financial services involve the collection and saving of sensitive personal information. Electronic mail addresses, phone numbers, personal details, financial information, marital status, special identifying details, workplace, family members, and more are collected as part of the process of getting to know the customer in order to provide him with services, advice, and an identity. All this sensitive information has been collected, saved, stored, processed, and transferred within the companies' technological systems. But these systems are also exposed to attacks and challenges from all sides. The exposures, in instances of intrusions, are not limited to sanctions that may be imposed on a company by the regulatory authorities, but also include a potential mortal blow to the company’s reputation and civil suits being filed by individuals on the grounds of infringement of privacy. In light of this, the fintech sector must adopt high standards of privacy protection and security. Fintech companies are required to create privacy-protection and information-security regulations for the enormous volume of information they collect, at standards on par with the customary international practices. Source: barlaw.co.il
In an opinion issued to the European Court of Justice, the Advocate General of the Court stated that according to current legislation, any data protection authority in the European Union can take action against a breach of the privacy legislation enforced by that authority, even if the entity alleged to have contravened the legislation is located in another Member State. The opinion was given in connection with a dispute about Facebook's alleged breach of German privacy legislation. Facebook argued that since its headquarters in Ireland are responsible for its data processing activities in the European Union, Germany's privacy authorities lack jurisdiction over its actions and only the Irish data protection authorities have the power to review its activities. While the opinions of the General Counsel are not binding on the European Court of Justice, the Court tends to follow them in the majority of cases. This opinion, if indeed followed by the European Court of Justice, is of significant importance, as it could lead to a barrage of enforcement measures against Facebook and similar structured internet multinationals. However, it should be noted, Europe's new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has instituted the concept of the lead supervisory authority in the jurisdiction of the data controller or data processor's main establishment, in an attempt to limit the need to deal with such a multitude of data protection authorities across the European Union; although it should be noted that the GDPR does not block entirely the other authorities. Source: barlaw.co.il
It is nearly impossible to keep track of the developments in the cryptocurrency and ICO arena, with new digital currencies being launched and new ICOs records frequently being broken. Recently, the record was broken once again, when Filecoin’s ICO raised about USD 200 million in one hour (!), after having raised about USD 52 million from investment funds and private investors in the presale ahead of the ICO. So what is an ICO? ICO is the abbreviation of Initial Coin Offering, a term inspired by the capital market term IPO (Initial Public Offering). This is when a company recruits debt or capital by publishing a prospectus offering of its securities to the public for the first time. A prospectus is a profound legal and accounting document that furnishes information about the company, its management, its businesses, and its financial position. Once a company’s securities are held by the public, it becomes a public company. In an ICO, companies that are developing a technology or an innovative venture, which, for the most part, is based on blockchain technology, recruit capital through the issuing of digital coins. The hope is that the coins' value will appreciate when the venture succeeds and will maximize profits for the coin buyers in the ICO. To date, digital coins and ICOs are unregulated in most countries. However, the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), the Central Bank of Singapore (MAS), the Canadian Securities Authority (CSA), and the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) have all already announced they are considering applying in some cases the existing securities regulations also to digital coins and ICOs (such regulations include restrictions in public offerings, prospectus and reporting requirements, etc.) Despite the lack of regulation, as well as the lack of uniformity with regard to the quality of the information being disclosed, the practice is that when launching a new token or actual digital coin and an ICO, the company publishes a document on the ICO’s website that furnishes information about the venture or the technology, pertinent financial data, and information about the offering itself. This document is called a ‘Whitepaper’. It is reasonable to assume that once leading countries enact regulations for digital currencies, including a binding standard for whitepapers, this market will become more regulated. Following are some helpful tips for new ventures still in the pre-ICO stage and who want to make their whitepapers accessible to potential investors. Mode of presentation of the information When an investor considers whether it is worthwhile to participate in an ICO, he wants to know why purchasing coins in the ICO will be a golden opportunity for him and what his resulting profit will be. Unfortunately, companies tend to focus on presenting the technology or the venture in their whitepapers, and they do not attribute enough importance to presenting the financial-economic data. But such data are equally important to potential investors, especially since financial data demonstrate the venture’s potential market value. It may will add value if the whitepaper will include financial data about the company, information about the new coin (or token) to be issued, and information about the technology. Such information should be substantiated by data from reliable sources. It is also advisable and helpful to use infographics—graphs, simulations, and comparative data—that encapsulate the highlights of the ICO clearly and succinctly. Structure of an ICO An ICO whitepaper should explain how and when investors can participate in the ICO, and in which currencies the investor can purchase the company’s new token (if only through digital coins, so which digital coins; and whether it is also possible to use FIAT money. Notwithstanding the regulatory uncertainty surrounding digital currencies, nearly every developed country imposes anti-money-laundering laws and KYC (know your client) provisions. Therefore, the whitepaper should also inform investors about the identification processes they will have to undergo during the ICO and the required mode of payment. Legal aspects As stated, most countries have not yet enacted digital currencies regulations that also regulate the mode of performance of an ICO. Consequently, purchasing digital coins and participating in an ICO are still highly risky and thus are not suitable for everyone. Therefore, it is critical to ensure the whitepaper accurately presents the venture and the structure of the ICO. It is recommended that the whitepaper disclose the risk factors unique to the market in which the company operates (in addition to the risks inherent in the digital currencies arena, the lack of regulations, and the absence of any promise that the venture’s success will lead to a rise in the value of the issued coin). In light of the above, and bearing in mind today’s regulatory uncertainty, ventures considering fundraising through digital currencies should act with all due care so that they do not find themselves in violation of securities laws in countries where the ICO is being launched. The applicable law in the territories relevant to the ICO should be meticulously examined. Source: barlaw.co.il