The US Treasury is investigating Kraken for enabling crypto trading in sanctioned countries

It's rough seas for crytpocurrency exchanges these days and the latest to be buffeted is one of the world's largest, Kraken. It's reportedly under investigation by the US Treasury Department over possible sanctions violations for letting users in Iran and elsewhere trade digital tokens, according to The New York Times

Kraken is a private exchange valued at $11 billion co-founded by chief executive Jesse Powell in 2011. The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has been investigating the company since 2019 and may impose a fine, according to the NYT's sources. It would be the largest crypto company to face enforcement action related to US sanctions imposed in 1979 prohibiting the export of goods or services to Iran.

Sanctions issues at Kraken first came up in November 2019 when an employee sued the company for doing business with prohibited countries. That suit was settled, but the OFAC began investigating the company the same year over accounts in Iran, along with other sanctioned countries including Syria and Cuba.

Powell allegedly posted a spreadsheet to a company Slack channel showing that Kraken had 1,522 accounts in Iran, 149 in Syria and 83 in Cuba as of last month, according to the NYT. The data supposedly came from residence information on "verified accounts." 

Kraken declined to comment to the NYT, but said that it "closely monitors compliance with sanctions laws and, as a general matter, reports to regulators even potential issues." A Treasury spokesperson said the agency was committed to enforcing "sanctions that protect US national security," but also gave no further details. 

OFAC has previously fined other cryptocurrency exchanges over similar sanctions violations. BitGo was hit with a $98,000 fine in 2020 over 183 violations, and BitPay face a $500,000-plus fine last year for 2,102 violations.

Cryptocurrency exchanges are facing more than the usual scrutiny these days. Last year, the world's largest crytpo exchange Binance faced a US money laundering probe for being a major destination of illicit cryptocurrency. Crypto lender Celcius is under investigation by multiple states after it froze transactions, and the Winklevoss twins' crytpo exchange Gemini is facing lawsuits over a $36 million crypto theft. 

Apple and Koss settle dispute over wireless headphone patents

Apple and Koss have ended their feud over wireless headphone patents shortly before trial. As Reutersnotes, the two told a Waco, Texas-based federal court on Saturday that they had reached a settlement over Koss' claims Apple had infringed on patents for wireless audio technology. The terms of the settlement haven't been disclosed, but the two firms said they made peace on "all matters in controversy." The trial was supposed to have started today.

Koss sued Apple, Bose, JLab, Plantronics and Skullcandy in 2020 over allegations wireless earbuds and headphones like AirPods were copying technology from the Striva line of WiFi audio devices. In filing the lawsuit, Koss argued that rivals were "catching up" to its early work and needed to pay compensation. Apple countersued, arguing that Koss' patents were invalid.

Lawsuits against Bose, Skullcandy and others are still pending. While it's unclear if those cases will move forward in light of this settlement, there's little doubt that Apple and Koss were eager to avoid a courtroom fight.

We've asked Apple and Koss for comment and will update if we hear back.

T-Mobile will pay $350 million to settle lawsuits over massive data breach

If you were a T-Mobile customer in August 2021, you may get a few dollars from the carrier in the near future. It has agreed to settle a consolidated class action lawsuit filed against the company over a data breach that exposed the personal information of 76.6 million "current, former and prospective customers." Back when T-Mobile's CEO, Mike Sievert, admitted and apologized for the breach, the carrier said the individual who hacked its network used "specialized" tools and knowledge of its infrastructure in order to gain access to its testing environment. That individual then stole customer data from the network and sold them on hacker forums.

The type of information that the bad actor sold varies per person, but it could include the name, birth date and social security number for each individual. T-Mobile got in touch with people affected by the data leak shortly after it came to light and offered them two free years of access to McAfee’s ID Theft Protection Service. Now, they're also getting monetary compensation, though it will likely be a few dollars at most. While the $350 million settlement may sound substantial, a huge chunk of that amount will go towards paying off legal fees. The rest will be divided among tens of millions of affected customers. According to the SEC filing spotted by GeekWire, the company will also spend $150 million on data security technologies throughout this year and the next.

The settlement still has to be approved by the court. But if it does, it will "resolve substantially all of the claims brought by the company’s current, former and prospective customers who were impacted by the 2021 cyberattack." You can read the full proposed settlement here.

T-Mobile will pay $350 million to settle lawsuits over massive data breach

If you were a T-Mobile customer in August 2021, you may get a few dollars from the carrier in the near future. It has agreed to settle a consolidated class action lawsuit filed against the company over a data breach that exposed the personal information of 76.6 million "current, former and prospective customers." Back when T-Mobile's CEO, Mike Sievert, admitted and apologized for the breach, the carrier said the individual who hacked its network used "specialized" tools and knowledge of its infrastructure in order to gain access to its testing environment. That individual then stole customer data from the network and sold them on hacker forums.

The type of information that the bad actor sold varies per person, but it could include the name, birth date and social security number for each individual. T-Mobile got in touch with people affected by the data leak shortly after it came to light and offered them two free years of access to McAfee’s ID Theft Protection Service. Now, they're also getting monetary compensation, though it will likely be a few dollars at most. While the $350 million settlement may sound substantial, a huge chunk of that amount will go towards paying off legal fees. The rest will be divided among tens of millions of affected customers. According to the SEC filing spotted by GeekWire, the company will also spend $150 million on data security technologies throughout this year and the next.

The settlement still has to be approved by the court. But if it does, it will "resolve substantially all of the claims brought by the company’s current, former and prospective customers who were impacted by the 2021 cyberattack." You can read the full proposed settlement here.

Ford is reportedly planning to cut 8,000 jobs to help fund its EV plans

Ford is reportedly planning to cut up to 8,000 jobs over the coming weeks in an effort to fund its plans to build EVs, according to Bloomberg. The layoffs would occur at its Ford Blue unit, recently created to develop vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE), and would affect other salaried positions in the company. The bulk of cuts are expected to occur in the US.

In March, Ford CEO Jim Farley restructured the company, dividing it into the Ford Blue and Model E divisions, with the latter dedicated to electric cars and pickups like the Mach E and F150 Lightning. As part of that, he announced plans to cut $3 billion in costs by 2026, with the aim of transforming Ford Blue into "the profit and cash engine" for the entire company.

"As part of this, we have laid out clear targets to lower our cost structure to ensure we are lean and fully competitive with the best in the industry," Ford's CCO Mark Truby told Bloomberg in a statement, without revealing more details about the cuts. Ford currently employees around 31,000 salaried US workers. 

In March, the automaker announced plans to boost electric vehicle spending to $50 billion and plan to build two million EVs by 2026. The company sold just 27,140 EVs stateside last year, but got a significant 76.6 percent boost last month as shipping commenced for the F-150 Lightning. 

TikTok is cutting jobs around the world

Some TikTok employees have already lost their jobs, while others are told to prepare for a meeting with the HR department as part of the video platform's global restructuring efforts, Wired reports. According to the publication, European employees were warned that their jobs were at risk and to expect an HR meeting in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, employees in the UK were told to expect colleagues across departments to lose their jobs. In the US, some personnel were told that they were being let go shortly after they came in for work on Monday morning. 

One of those US employees was David Ortiz, who was among the first executives TikTok parent company ByteDance hired outside of China. In a LinkedIn post, Ortiz said that his "role is being eliminated in a much larger re-organization effort." A TikTok spokesperson did not deny that layoffs were taking place when Wired asked. However, they also didn't confirm that the company is going through a global restructuring and didn't provide the publication with a detailed statement on why TikTok is cutting jobs.

A staffer who talked to the publication said the company is only cutting employees and teams that managers believe haven't been contributing enough. They claimed that only 100 employees are being laid off, which is but a small percentage of around 10,000 employees across the US and Europe. That said, TikTok is merely one of the companies in the big tech, gaming, AV/EV and social media sphere that's downsizing its workforce.

Some of the companies in the industry that had to let people go due to the economic downturn include Netflix, Unity and Twitter. Tesla reportedly laid off 200 Autopilot employees and closed an office in California. Bloomberg said Rivian plans to lay off 5 percent of its workforce. Finally, Meta told employees to identify low performers, The Information said, and move them to exit the company if they're unable to get back on track. 

TikTok is cutting jobs around the world

Some TikTok employees have already lost their jobs, while others are told to prepare for a meeting with the HR department as part of the video platform's global restructuring efforts, Wired reports. According to the publication, European employees were warned that their jobs were at risk and to expect an HR meeting in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, employees in the UK were told to expect colleagues across departments to lose their jobs. In the US, some personnel were told that they were being let go shortly after they came in for work on Monday morning. 

One of those US employees was David Ortiz, who was among the first executives TikTok parent company ByteDance hired outside of China. In a LinkedIn post, Ortiz said that his "role is being eliminated in a much larger re-organization effort." A TikTok spokesperson did not deny that layoffs were taking place when Wired asked. However, they also didn't confirm that the company is going through a global restructuring and didn't provide the publication with a detailed statement on why TikTok is cutting jobs.

A staffer who talked to the publication said the company is only cutting employees and teams that managers believe haven't been contributing enough. They claimed that only 100 employees are being laid off, which is but a small percentage of around 10,000 employees across the US and Europe. That said, TikTok is merely one of the companies in the big tech, gaming, AV/EV and social media sphere that's downsizing its workforce.

Some of the companies in the industry that had to let people go due to the economic downturn include Netflix, Unity and Twitter. Tesla reportedly laid off 200 Autopilot employees and closed an office in California. Bloomberg said Rivian plans to lay off 5 percent of its workforce. Finally, Meta told employees to identify low performers, The Information said, and move them to exit the company if they're unable to get back on track. 

Apple Pay illegally profited by walling off contactless payments, lawsuit alleges

A proposed class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of payment card issuers accuses Apple of illegally profiting from Apple Pay and breaking antitrust laws. Iowa's Affinity Credit Union is listed as the plaintiff in the complaint, filed today in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit alleges that by restricting contactless payments on iOS devices to Apple Pay and charging payment card issuers fees to use the mobile wallet, the iPhone maker is engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

While Android users have options for contactless mobile wallets, iOS users can only use tap-to-pay technology through Apple Pay. In other words, while iPhone users can download the Google Pay app, they can’t use it to make contactless payments in stores. Android doesn’t charge payment card issuers for use of any supported mobile wallet. But it’s a different story for Apple Pay, which charges card issuers a 0.15% fee on credit transactions and half of a cent on debit transactions. These fees have brought in up to $1 billion annually for Apple, the lawsuit alleges.

“In the Android ecosystem, where multiple digital wallets compete, there are no issuer fees whatsoever, ” said the complaint. “The upshot is that card issuers pay a reported $1 billion annually in fees on Apple Pay and $0 for accessing functionally identical Android wallets. If Apple faced competition, it could not sustain these substantial fees.”

The suit alleges that by restricting iOS users to only Apple Pay for contactless payments, Apple is blocking competing mobile wallets from the market. Payment card issuers are essentially forced to pay Apple’s transaction fees if they want to offer their service to iPhone users.

Apple is facing a similar challenge over its payment system in the EU, where an antitrust commission in May said that the tech giant is illegally blocking third-party developers from enabling contactless payments. Apple has denied the EU’s allegations, arguing that giving third-party developers access would be a security risk. This is an argument that Apple has used before as a reason why it doesn't open up its platform, such as in the case of third-party app stores.

Engadget has reached out to Apple for comment on the lawsuit and will update if we hear back.

Apple Pay illegally profited by walling off contactless payments, lawsuit alleges

A proposed class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of payment card issuers accuses Apple of illegally profiting from Apple Pay and breaking antitrust laws. Iowa's Affinity Credit Union is listed as the plaintiff in the complaint, filed today in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. The lawsuit alleges that by restricting contactless payments on iOS devices to Apple Pay and charging payment card issuers fees to use the mobile wallet, the iPhone maker is engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

While Android users have options for contactless mobile wallets, iOS users can only use tap-to-pay technology through Apple Pay. In other words, while iPhone users can download the Google Pay app, they can’t use it to make contactless payments in stores. Android doesn’t charge payment card issuers for use of any supported mobile wallet. But it’s a different story for Apple Pay, which charges card issuers a 0.15% fee on credit transactions and half of a cent on debit transactions. These fees have brought in up to $1 billion annually for Apple, the lawsuit alleges.

“In the Android ecosystem, where multiple digital wallets compete, there are no issuer fees whatsoever, ” said the complaint. “The upshot is that card issuers pay a reported $1 billion annually in fees on Apple Pay and $0 for accessing functionally identical Android wallets. If Apple faced competition, it could not sustain these substantial fees.”

The suit alleges that by restricting iOS users to only Apple Pay for contactless payments, Apple is blocking competing mobile wallets from the market. Payment card issuers are essentially forced to pay Apple’s transaction fees if they want to offer their service to iPhone users.

Apple is facing a similar challenge over its payment system in the EU, where an antitrust commission in May said that the tech giant is illegally blocking third-party developers from enabling contactless payments. Apple has denied the EU’s allegations, arguing that giving third-party developers access would be a security risk. This is an argument that Apple has used before as a reason why it doesn't open up its platform, such as in the case of third-party app stores.

Engadget has reached out to Apple for comment on the lawsuit and will update if we hear back.

Elon Musk asks court to delay Twitter trial start to February 2023

Elon Musk’s lawyers allege Twitter is pushing for an unreasonably fast trial over allegations the Tesla and SpaceX CEO improperly ended his $44 billion bid to buy the social media platform, reports Bloomberg. “Twitter’s sudden request for warp speed after two months of foot-dragging and obfuscation is its latest tactic to shroud the truth about spam accounts long enough to railroad defendants into closing,” Musk’s legal team wrote in a complaint filed Friday in response to Twitter’s July 12th lawsuit.

The two sides are pushing for the case to be considered on dramatically different timelines. Noting the deal has an October 24th “drop-dead date,” Twitter asked for a four-day trial that would conclude before the end of September. Meanwhile, Musk’s team says the case should go to trial no sooner than February 13th, 2023. 

“The core dispute over false and spam accounts is fundamental to Twitter’s value,” Musk’s lawyers wrote, reiterating the billionaire’s claim that Twitter falsely represented the volume of bots on its platform. “It is also extremely fact and expert intensive, requiring substantial time, requiring substantial time for discovery.”

Thankfully, neither side will have to wait long to find out when proceedings start. On Friday, Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen McCormick scheduled a 90-minute hearing for July 19th. The session will see McCormick hear arguments for a September trial.