Issue 5, 2020
"The suit accuses the president of using the order to retaliate against Twitter, infringing on the public's right to receive information."

Why this is important: This article is important because it discusses the most recent lawsuit to be filed against the Trump administration as a result of the issuance of its Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship. That executive order claims that "online platforms" censor certain political viewpoints on the internet. Accordingly, the order directs various executive agencies to assess what actions can be taken in response, including withholding federal advertising spending, filing federal lawsuits, and assisting states with filing state lawsuits. The Center for Democracy and Technology already has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration as a result of this executive order. The lawsuit claims that the order violates the First Amendment as it is plainly retaliatory against Twitter and seeks to chill protected speech. This article is important because it discusses another lawsuit that has been filed against the Trump administration as a result of the issuance of the order. Unlike the first lawsuit, however, this new lawsuit accuses the administration of infringing upon the first amendment rights of all users of the online platforms to receive information on those platforms. --- Nicholas P. Mooney II

Nick Mooney and Joseph Schaeffer recently recorded a video discussing this topic. Click here to view it.
"'The Trump administration ignored our extensive efforts to address its concerns, which we conducted fully and in good faith.'"

Why this is important: This article is important because it discusses the recent lawsuit filed by TikTok, Inc. and ByteDance Ltd in response to one of President Trump’s recent executive orders. TikTok is an application that allows users to record and share video clips. ByteDance is its parent company. The executive order provides that certain transactions with ByteDance will be prohibited and leaves it up to the Secretary of Commerce to determine what those transactions will be. The basis for the issuance of the executive order is the belief that the TikTok app, among other things, captures users’ data, shares that data with the Chinese government and/or Chinese Communist Party, and even captures data as soon as the app is downloaded and before a user even creates an account. TikTok and ByteDance disagree, claiming that the app does not capture any more data than hundreds of other apps capture, that all U.S. users’ data is kept in the U.S., and that no data is shared with the Chinese government or Chinese Communist Party. TikTok and ByteDance, as well as others, argue that the issuance of the executive order was intended to speed up negotiations with Microsoft to purchase TikTok. The lawsuit charges that the executive order violates due process, exceeds the scope of the applicable authorities, and is based on no real evidence. This lawsuit is important because President Trump issued a similar executive order against another application company with ties to China, WeChat, and its parent Tencent. This lawsuit may provide a model for those companies to file a similar lawsuit. --- Nicholas P. Mooney II
"The world's three biggest computer companies, Lenovo, HP and Dell, have told school districts they have a shortage of nearly 5 million laptops, in some cases exacerbated by Trump administration sanctions on Chinese suppliers."

Why this is important: The United States is experiencing computer shortages at a time of extremely high demand driven by remote learning. The worldwide pandemic has driven the nation's education system to rely heavily on remote, computer-based learning. As a result, demand for laptops and computers has skyrocketed. However, at the same time, the pandemic has caused factory slowdowns, which, when coupled with trade restrictions, has resulted in shortages in needed technology. --- Paul G. Papadopoulos
"The crisis has expedited society further into the digital world; technology that was predicted to be adopted in five years is now on track to be embraced in mere months or even weeks."

Why this is important: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought several changes in our society, many of which no one could have predicted. However, one trend that many experts did predict – and correctly at that – was the massive acceleration toward digital commerce. With no in-store options, customers turned to online retail in droves. Shoppers who were already utilizing online shopping handled the transition seamlessly, while others who were more accustomed to in-store shopping had more of a learning curve. Furthermore, the temporary shuttering of physical retail locations forced customers who otherwise would have never tried online shopping into the digital world. The majority of these newfound customers are age 45 or older. The trends were moving toward a digital marketplace before the pandemic began, and the acceleration caused by the pandemic has left many retailers scrambling to keep up. Those retailers who were already investing in a top-flight online experience for customers have had little issue with doubling down on those investments. As a result, they are seeing record numbers. Retailers who were not investing in their customers’ online experience are now playing catch-up, and for many of them it may be too late to recover. Digital commerce will remain prominent long after the pandemic is over, but it has leaped forward by several years due to the pandemic. --- P. Corey Bonasso
"While this has been a great boon for those advocating for a cashless society, underbanked customers have paid the price as many businesses no longer take their cash."

Why this is important: The trend in first world countries has been pushing toward a cashless society since the technological age began. With electronic banking and online payment methods becoming more popular every day, physical money is becoming less common. The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend, as many customers who would use cash have not had the opportunity to visit stores, and merchants have increasingly pushed toward electronic or contactless payment methods. While some people welcome a cashless society, a significant sector of the population still prefers cash as the primary payment method. Furthermore, many people around the globe only use cash because they have no bank account. A cashless society may be the most economic and efficient method for some, but it would leave many around the world without the means to buy or sell. The concept of a cashless society was theorized even when cash was the only means by which to buy and sell, but with today's technology, it could become a reality. Fortunately, cash payments and noncash payments are not mutually exclusive. As society progresses, it will find the appropriate balance at some point in the middle. --- P. Corey Bonasso
"A federal judge in Illinois has rejected a fingerprint database company’s claims that the state’s strict biometric privacy law is unconstitutional because it arbitrarily exempts the financial industry and government contractors."

Why this is important: A fingerprint database company's challenge to the constitutionality of the Illinois biometric privacy law has so far been unsuccessful in federal court. Legal challenges of this type will test the strength of biometric privacy laws and will undoubtedly impact how they continue to be interpreted and adopted across the country. --- Paul G. Papadopoulos
"Visa's Back to Business global study reveals small businesses and consumers, from around the world, that may initially been reluctant to adopt digital technology are now embracing it."

Why this is important: Every trend has stages of progression. Early adopters of a new trend typically sing its praises and advocate for it to other consumers. Some more risk-averse shoppers wait to see how a new trend works before becoming convinced that it is a wise choice for them. Of course, there are always several others who don’t like change, and will only adopt a new way of operating when it becomes a necessity. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift toward contactless payment options has accelerated a trend that would otherwise take years to gain the same sort of traction. The accelerated acceptance of digital payment methods has not only caused late adopters to get on board sooner than normal, but it also has caused them to adopt other types of contactless payment methods. The pandemic pushed several consumers to use a platform they would not have otherwise used, and it appears that once those customers start moving with the trend, they are more amenable to other changes. Fear or dislike of change can often delay people from making a move, but when they are given the appropriate nudge – a pandemic in this instance – they realize change can be good and start exploring more. --- P. Corey Bonasso
"According to the Justice Department, the three terrorist organizations involved were the, 'al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).'”

Why this is important: This article is important because cryptocurrencies have suffered the reputation of being a tool for money laundering, terrorist financing, and other crimes. The reality of the situation, however, has been shown by studies indicating that there is no higher percentage of crimes being committed with cryptocurrencies than with other methods of payment. Still, there are instances where bad actors use cryptocurrencies to commit crimes. About two weeks ago, the Justice Department disclosed that it had accomplished the largest ever seizure of terrorist organizations’ cryptocurrency accounts, including more than 300 such accounts, four websites, and four Facebook pages all related to their criminal enterprise. This article is important because it discusses the request by members of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy for a briefing on the specifics of that seizure. This article also is important because it discusses how the seizure was accomplished and the often misunderstood fact that transactions in many cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, are not anonymous. --- Nicholas P. Mooney II
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