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Legit. | Legal News
Legit. | Legal News
Good Monday afternoon. Thanks for your feedback on Saturday’s NFT issue. If there are any topics you want a deep dive on - HMU!
In today’s issue:
  • Coinbase’s S-1 filing.
  • An update on Shamima Begum.
  • Robot dogs.
  • Facebook & privacy? Not a joke.

Coinbase = A Crypto Fairytale
Image: Giphy
Image: Giphy
Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange, filed to go public on Thursday.
But it’s doing things a little differently. Instead of a traditional IPO, Coinbase is going public on the Nasdaq via direct listing.
  • A direct listing = an IPO alternative where investors and employees convert their ownership stakes into stock.
  • Slack, Spotify and Palantir all went down the DL route.
A quick read of the company’s S1 filing shows it’s doing something else differently: making money.
  • 85% of the companies that went public last year were unprofitable, per Bloomberg.
  • Coinbase swung from a $30m loss to a $322m profit in 2020 and has a $100b valuation.
Buuuut: Coinbase is battling a few risks.
  • Its revenue is tied to crypto markets, which are incredibly volatile.
  • Its business model (more trades = more revenue) is kinda incompatible with the ‘buy-and-hold’ ethos of Bitcoin.
  • Its value could nosedive if Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, is unmasked.
Coinbases’s listing will pour so much fuel on the crypto fire.
  • As the first major crypto exchange to go public, the float will validate a world many still see as lawless and could cement crypto’s maturity as a mainstream asset class.
What Coinbase is saying: founder Bryan Armstrong says the company is helping shift power from financial institutions to individuals.
“The current financial system is rife with high fees, unequal access, and barriers to innovation.“
Zoom out. ‘Crypto is booming’ = an understatement. Bitcoin and Ethereum are up 600% and 1000% respectively since the start of 2020.
Begum v. Home Secretary
Shamima Begum can’t return to the UK to restore her citizenship, the Supreme Court ruled on Friday.
The backstory. Begum, who fled London to join Isis six years ago, was stripped of her British passport in 2019 by the then home secretary, Sajid Javid, on national security grounds.
Is this legal? Kinda. The UK can remove a person’s citizenship for “the public good” – but only if doing so doesn’t leave them stateless.
  • Javid’s argument: Begum is eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.
  • Bangladesh’s argument: Begum was born and raised in the UK.
Last July: the Court of Appeal ruled Begum, who’s currently in a Syrian detention camp, could return to the UK to challenge the revocation of her citizenship in person.
On Friday: in a judgement that makes things reaaalllly awkward for the appeal judges, the SC overruled the lower court. It said:
  • The CoA didn’t give the home sec’s decision enough “respect” as a democratically-elected minister.
  • National security > the right to a fair hearing. 
It’s a big win for current home sec Priti Patel. Others, though, say the court’s blanket deference to the government is pretty worrying:
  • Adam Wagner posted a really good Twitter thread on this. You should read it.
Looking ahead… the SC is allowing Begum to make one last appeal – but only when she can play an effective part in it without compromising public safety.
  • In other words: TBD.
Zoom out. The judgement is unanimous – like the second Miller case and the Heathrow case. Looks like the SC’s new gameplan (subconscious or conscious?) is to hold hands and put on a united front when ruling on sensitive issues.
Who’s a Good Bot?
Image: Boston Dynamics
Image: Boston Dynamics
Totally normal news: the NYPD’s new hire is a robot called Digidog: a 70-pound metal dog with cameras, microphones and a communication system that allows the officer controlling it to remotely see and hear what’s happening.
The NYPD, who’ll use Digidog to assess the safety of areas before deploying officers, tweeted:
  • “The NYPD has been using robots since the 1970s to save lives in hostage situations and hazmat incidents.”
But this isn’t like other robots. First, it looks creepily like the robot dog from Black Mirror.
Second, it was built by Boston Dynamics - the tech company that weirded the internet out with its videos of robots dancing with a little too much fluidity.
  • BD built the robodogs for utility purposes i.e. to inspect building sites, oil and gas facilities - and promised they would never be used for military purposes.
Boston Dynamics is kinda going back on its no-military promise by selling Digidog to the NYPD. So naturally, people are skeptical:
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez described Digidog as a “robotic surveillance ground.”
But Michael Perry, VP at Boston Dynamics, says Digidog couldn’t be a covert surveillance tool if it tried: “it’s noisy and has flashing lights.”
Zoom out. Law enforcement is experimenting with tech as an alternative means of policing. But deploying more tech doesn’t always create better outcomes.
  • E.g. racist feeback loops arise when algorithms are trained on existing police data, per MIT Tech Review.
Related news: Massachusetts is one of the first states to regulate the use of facial recognition tech in criminal investigations.
The Zuck is Privacy-Aware
Facebook filed a patent earlier this month to maintain user privacy in AR settings, per Patent Drop.
Why? In some forms of artificial reality, a user’s physical environment has to be mapped. You might be okay with this if you’re in an AR setting alone.
But imaging having a multiplayer experience in a joint virtual location; it’s a little disconcerting that your physical location might be mapped and shared with strangers.
Facebook’s patent filing imagines a system where, instead of sharing a user’s actual physical environment, their location data is merged with another map that’s stripped of any identifiable information.
Facebook and privacy are like oil and water: they don’t mix. At least, that’s the popular opinion. Facebook is trying to change this rep by pre-empting privacy concerns before its AR tech develops a mass consumer base.
Zoom out. An uptick in AR tech consumption signals the coming age of augmented reality, where our online and offline data are blended in real time.
  • Drafting and passing legislation is an inherently slow-burn process, unlike the frenetic tech adoption cycle. This raises concerns about our ability to curb Silicon Valley’s “collect-it-all” ethos on data as we enter the augmented reality landscape.
  • El Chapo’s wife is arrested on drug trafficking charges and accused of helping El Chapo plan his infamous prison escape.
  • Turkish court sentences an airline executive for smuggling ex-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn from Japan to Lebanon last year.
  • Softbank reaches a $1.6b settlement with WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann.
  • LVMH acquires a 50% stake in Jay Z’s champagne band.
  • Nepal’s Supreme Court rules the Prime Minister overstepped his powers when he dissolved Parliament last year.
  • China’s retirement industry is a hotbed for Ponzi schemes, per the NYT.
  • Trump must turn his tax records over to prosecutors, rules the US Supreme Court.
  • Qualcomm, the US chip giant, is sued for anti-competitive behaviour in the UK.
As weird as 2020 was, it was an exciting year for law.
We think 2021 will be even better, so have put together a collection of essays on where the legal industry is heading this year - covering legal tech to SPACs and everything in between.
Want to see ‘em? Just refer 2 friends to Legit and we’ll send The Future of Law your way.
Click here to access your personalized referral portal and check your referral count.
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