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Australia passes legislation to force Facebook, Google pay media companies for news

(Asian News Hub) – In a major development, the Australian parliament on Thursday passed a news media and digital platforms mandatory bargaining code that will make it compulsory for Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for content.

The code will be reviewed within one year of its commencement, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.

“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public-interest journalism in Australia,” they said.

The passage of the code, developed after extensive analysis from Australia’s anti-trust regulator and almost three years of public consultation, may offer encouragement to countries such as Britain and Canada which are planning similar laws.

Other countries have introduced legislation forcing major technology companies to negotiate with media companies for licensing fees for links that draw traffic, and advertising revenue, to their platforms.

The new code makes Australia the first country where a government arbitrator will set the rates tech giants have to pay if negotiations with media companies fail.

Frydenberg and Fletcher said the government was pleased to see “progress by both Google and more recently Facebook” in reaching commercial arrangements with Australian news media.

Facebook had cut off news in Australia last week amid tense negotiations with the government.

AGENCY

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World Bank rejects El Salvador’s request to help implement bitcoin as legal tender

(Asian News Hub) – The World Bank has rejected the government of El Salvador’s request to help implement bitcoin as legal tender in the country.

Reuters reported the news on late Wednesday, saying that the international lender is concerned about bitcoin’s environmental and transparency issues.

“We are committed to helping El Salvador in numerous ways including for currency transparency and regulatory processes,” the World Bank told Reuters.

“While the government did approach us for assistance on bitcoin, this is not something the World Bank can support given the environmental and transparency shortcomings.”

El Salvador had requested “technical assistance” from the World Bank, according to the country’s Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya. Now that the request has been turned down, El Salvador’s timeline of accepting bitcoin across the country within three months could be impacted.

Earlier this month, El Salvador became the first country to classify bitcoin as legal tender, alongside the U.S. dollar, after the nation’s Congress approved President Nayib Bukele’s proposal to embrace the cryptocurrency.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also said it saw “macroeconomic, financial and legal issues” with El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin. According to Zelaya, however, the IMF was “not against” the implementation of bitcoin.

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US courts deny the SEC to view records related to Ripple’s recent XRP transactions

The court denied access to documents on Ripple’s XRP transactions and post-dating the lawsuit filing.

(Asian News Hub) – The discovery phase of the lawsuit against Ripple Labs continues as Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn denied, in part, the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) request for additional discovery.

Ripple’s fair notice defense, which the SEC unsuccessfully moved to strike, is built around the US SEC actions and not its own conduct, since the company focuses on the Commission’s failure to give fair notice to the market about its position on whether XRP qualified as security. 

Denied

The Court denied the requested access to the documents related to Ripple’s XRP transactions that post-date the lawsuit filing in December last year, still leaving room for the SEC to renew the motion.

“If, after the parties have exchanged expert reports, it becomes clear that Ripple’s expert relied upon documents that, in fairness, requires the SEC to review post-complaint documents, the SEC may renew its application.”

Besides the documents related to Ripple’s XRP transactions the court also denied the SEC’s request for documents related to Ripple’s lobbying efforts.

“Ripple’s lobbying efforts regarding the status of XRP are not relevant, and any relevancy argument is outweighed by the burden of production,” argued the judge.

In addition, the court denied the SEC’s request for a sixth deposition as “unripe”, which was motioned to “cover any gaps in knowledge” that depositions from other witnesses might leave in the SEC discovery. 

For their sixth deposition, the SEC requested to depose a Ripple “representative pursuant to Rule 30(b)(6).” 

This might have been a powerful tool for the Commission, since that witness would be authorized to speak for the company, unlike other employees deposed in the litigation.

Finally, the appointed judge also denied the SEC’s request to order Ripple to search the records of its General Counsels and Deputy General Counsel on the account of them being “highly burdensome.”

Granted 

However, part of the SEC’s motion was approved as the court granted the Commission the right to conduct five additional depositions, including former Ripple employees Ron Will, Ethan Beard, Phil Rapoport, and Ryan Zagone as well as Christian Gil, co-founder of crypto trading firm and liquidity provider GSR.

In addition, the appointed judge ordered Ripple to search for responsive documents from the company’s former head of regulatory affairs, Ryan Zagone, and the company’s head of finance, Cameron Kinloch.

Crypto Slate

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98% of CFOs say their hedge fund will invest in Bitcoin by 2026: Study

(Asian News Hub) – Traditional hedge funds are willing to increase their exposure in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency markets over the next five years, a new survey has found.

Intertrust Global — an international trust and corporate management company — polled the chief financial officers of 100 hedge funds globally about their intention to purchase crypto-assets. About 98% of them responded that they expect their hedge funds to invest 7.2% of their assets in cryptocurrencies by 2026.

The survey found that a 7.2% investment into the cryptocurrency sector would equal about $312 billion if replicated across the sector. Meanwhile, about 17% of the polled CFOs admitted that their hedge fund could have 10% of their assets allocated to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).

The results appeared as Bitcoin corrected by more than 50% after rallying from $3,858 in March 2020 to almost $65,000 in April 2021, leading to speculations that it would crash further due to overvaluation.

Nevertheless, the flagship cryptocurrency held through technical supports around $30,000 and, earlier this week, rallied back above $40,000.

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