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Apple Asks Judge To Reject Government Order To Help Unlock iPhone

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Apple Inc. has asked a federal judge to reject the U.S. Justice Department’s recent order to require it to help unlock an iPhone used in a New York drug case, according to Nasdaq. Apple is also trying to get the government to provide information about its phone hacking activities.

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Apple has been fighting the Justice Department on the question of forcing the company to help investigators unlock iPhones. The government dropped one case last month after an unnamed third party provided a new way to unlock a phone. The FBI claimed the technique used in that case works only on limited iPhones.

Legal Wrangling Continues

Federal prosecutors want Apple to help retrieve data from a phone confiscated from a drug suspect who has already pled guilty. In February, Magistrate Judge James Orenstein ruled the government lacks the authority to force Apple to help government agents retrieve data from phones. The government has appealed to a higher judge in this case, which is why Apple has filed a response.

Apple argued the government has failed to demonstrate the order is needed to execute the search warrant, and that it has not exhausted all avenues to recover the information. In its filing before U.S. District Judge Margo Brodie, Apple said the government must first provide proof that it has conducted an exhaustive search and that it is not able to obtain the data without Apple’s help.

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An Apple attorney previously said Apple would try to force the government to answer questions on its phone hacking activities, including government agencies and companies it has consulted with. On Friday, Apple said there is no evidence that the government has consulted with any third parties or other government entities.

Justice Wants To Establish Authority

In continuing this effort, the Justice Department wants to secure one or more rulings to uphold its authority to force companies to assist in investigations by decrypting data or opening devices.

A government spokesperson said neither the law nor the facts have changed, only the company’s willingness to help with investigations.

The spokesperson said Apple agreed to assist the government in accessing the data, something it has done at least 70 times previously under similar circumstances. Apple only changed its position when the request for help was made public by the court, the government claims. Apple said it would take a few hours to open the phone since they have a mechanism that would allow it, the government spokesperson said.

The New York case marks the first open disagreement between the parties over the locked iPhone issue. In 2008 until last year, Apple helped the government open locked iPhones confiscated in investigations. When the New York case judge questioned the government’s authority to require the cooperation, Apple began to resist the orders.

The two sides are preparing to address the issue before the Supreme Court. It is not possible for either party to predict which iPhone case will reach the high court.

Also read: U.S. resumes battle to force Apple to unlock its phone in separate case

Information Sought In New York Case

The New York case involves a phone confiscated in 2014 from Jun Feng in a drug investigation. Feng pleaded guilty last year, but Apple and the government agreed the legal dispute over the phone has to be resolved.

Feng’s attorney declined to comment.

The government cites a 1789 law called the All Writs Act as its legal authority for compelling Apple and other companies to assist in such cases.

Apple argues that the government stretched the use of the All Writs Act past what Congress intended. The company argues the government should pass a new law if it wants such authority.

Prosecutors in the New York case say they want to see if there is evidence in the phone of additional crimes and claim such evidence could impact sentencing.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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iComply ICO Adds Blockchain Thought Leader “ThePiachu” to Its Management Team

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iComply Investor Services Inc. made a big move this month by landing the services of  Piotr Piasecki, known by many in the blockchain community as “ThePiachu”. Piasecki will serve in the leadership capacity of decentralization manager for the iComply platform ahead of its beta launch in the new year.

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Piasecki’s Track Record

Active on the blockchain scene since 2011, Piotr Piasecki is one of bitcoin’s earliest backers. In 2012, he delivered his Master’s thesis on bitcoin security to the Technical University of Lodz in Poland. Just one year later, he received the first Bitcoin Foundation grant. That same year, he published a paper on smart contracts in Ledger, the first academic journal dedicated to blockchain.

In joining iComply, Piasecki will leave his previous role at Factom, a blockchain services company based in Austin, Texas.

iComply: Right Place at the Right Time

iComply ICO is a platform for token compliance that helps investors and startups navigate the legal and regulatory maze of the ICO market. Investment in ICOs reached $2.3 billion in the first nine months of 2017, surpassing early-stage venture capital. However, the outlook on ICOs has grown murky since the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that token sales can be classified as securities and therefore subject to federal regulation.

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The SEC made a landmark ruling in July that tokens offered by The DAO venture capital fund were securities and therefore subject to federal laws. ICO issuers and investors have been scrambling ever since.

Against this backdrop, iComply seeks to bring more regulatory clarity to the ICO market. It has already engaged with international governments, regulatory bodies and financial institutions in pursuit of a common framework around ICO regulation. Matthew Unger, the company’s CEO, was recently invited to attend the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in Washington.

The timing of iComply’s ramp-up is what attracted “ThePiachu” to the company in the first place.

“After the the recent SEC ruling on ICOs and securities, a new market opportunity arose to help these various companies adhere to compliance guidelines,” Piasecki tells Hacked.com. “And as they say – in a gold rush, sell shovels.”

He adds: ““I believe the ICO landscape will see a new wave of ICO-securities, bringing both renewed interest and a chance for new types of products that we haven’t seen yet in this space to emerge.”

Piasecki believes that the growth and widespread adoption of cryptocurrency will lead to more efficient payment methods put in place. This means having the ability to transact between several currencies without the friction we currently experience. When this happens, the currency you are transacting won’t matter as much as the value it represents.

The shifting regulatory landscape will challenge this paradigm from emerging, as evidenced by the recent crackdowns in China and South Korea. However, markets like Japan are embracing digital payments, with regulators there seeking to streamline and regulate the cryptocurrency system. Russia is taking an entirely different approach by centralizing blockchain mining and allowing digital currency holders to exchange their assets for fiat money.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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Gold Still Beats Bitcoin, According to Goldman Sachs… But What About Price Independence?

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Goldman Sachs has expressed interest in starting a bitcoin trading operation, but it’s not drinking the Kool Aid just yet. In a note to clients, the Wall Street investment giant said gold beats bitcoin in almost every way.

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Gold Wins, Says New York Bank

“Gold wins out over cryptocurrencies in a majority of the key characteristics of money,” Goldman said this week in a note to clients, as reported by CCN and others.

The company also described bullion as being the “best long-term store of value,” as demonstrated by its long history as a unit of value.

“The use of precious metals is not a historical accident – they are still the best long-term store of value out of the known elements,” it added.

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Although bitcoin clearly isn’t gold, the two asset classes share similarities. They are both finite , and can be converted into fiat currencies rather easily. They are also portable and offer anonymity. Some analysts have also compared bitcoin’s store-of-value capability relative to gold’s.

Bitcoin’s Advantage

One of bitcoin’s primary advantages over gold is correlation – or lack thereof. This is actually an astonishing feature of the digital asset, and one of the strongest arguments in its favor.

Whereas most asset classes are correlated, bitcoin’s price movements are completely independent. This essentially means it isn’t impacted by other markets. Stocks, commodities, currencies and commodities have nothing to do with how bitcoin is priced. Bitcoin’s price independence was discussed at length in Ark Invest’s whitepaper Ringing the Bell for a New Asset Class.

According to authors Chris Burniske and Adam White, “Given its unique politico-economic characteristics, bitcoin’s price should behave differently relative to other assets as it is pushed and pulled by distinct market forces.”

This suggests that investors who swap a small percentage of their holdings into bitcoin can lower their exposure to pricey correlations over time.

Of course, price independence doesn’t mean there’s no volatility. Bitcoin, like other cryptocurrencies, is highly volatile. This has actually worked in favor of the bulls over the past ten months, as they’ve purchased the dips every single time.

This also aligns with the findings of the ARK researchers, who studied bitcoin’s risk-reward profile using the Sharpe Ratio. This ratio measures returns based on per-unit risks. Using this as a methodology, the BTC token has exhibited a superior returns in three of the five years examined.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

 

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Jamie Dimon May Hate Bitcoin, but J.P. Morgan Is Embracing Blockchain

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J.P. Morgan Chase CEO has made it abundantly clear that he hates bitcoin, but that hasn’t stopped his firm from adopting the technology that underpins the digital currency system.

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J.P. Morgan Launches Pilot Program 

On Monday, America’s biggest bank rolls out the next phase of its blockchain pilot program. The effort will facilitate a faster, more secure transfer of cross border payments between J.P. Morgan and other banks, including Royal Bank of Canada and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

Although the new program will not trade cryptocurrency, it will use the landmark record-keeping technology that underpins it. The Wall Street Journal reports that J.P. Morgan will use the same blockchain technology behind digital currency Ethereum.

Despite widespread concern over cryptocurrency, financiers are enamored with blockchain. They, like many others, say the technology can significantly increase the speed of cross-border payments. The system currently in place is extremely complex, and requires multiple streams of communication between various participants. The blockchain has the potential to cut down transaction time from as much as 15 days to mere hours.

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The pilot program aims to achieve a secure distributed ledger across financial institutions, enabling banks to work together to process transactions. Connecting transaction data through a shared network will greatly reduce the number of steps it takes to verify and process transactions.

J.P.’s embrace of blockchain doesn’t mean he’s going to warm up to cryptocurrency. His latest criticism of bitcoin came on Friday when he said it had “no actual value” and that “governments are going to crush it.” He did, however, give a glowing review of blockchain.

“We actually use it. It will be useful for a lot of different things,” Dimon said at a conference in Washington, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal. “God bless the blockchain.”

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock 

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