Court says SEC wrongly identified ICO tokens as ‘securities’

California judge throws out SEC injunction on Blockvest. US sanctions bitcoin addresses tied to Iranian hackers. Steemit sacks 70 percent of staff.

The SEC has lost the first phase of a court battle with Blockvest, an ICO accused of violating “the antifraud and securities registration provisions of the federal securities laws.”

Gonzalo Curiel, a California District Judge, declined the SEC’s request that the court restrain Blockvest’s CEO, Reginald Buddy Ringgold III from doing business, until the company’s upcoming court proceedings. Curiel said that the SEC had not provided adequate proof that Ringgold had, indeed, sold Blockvest tokens (BLV) as “securities,” at all. (The “evidence” the SEC provided the court was that investors had cashed checks to Blockvest with the words “Blockvest” and “coins” written on them.) Full story here.

Bitcoin addresses of Iranian hackers sanctioned by US government

Ali Khorashadizadeh and Mohammad Ghorbaniyan, two Iranians who allegedly stole 7,000 bitcoins in wide ranging “ransomware” attacks, dubbed SamSam, have had their bitcoin addresses sanctioned by US federal authorities.

Normally, sanctions are reserved for banks, email addresses, P.O. boxes, etc, so this is a first. It sets a precedent that if anyone else decides to extort money from, say, hospitals (as Khorashadizadeh and Ghorbaniyan did) the public wallet address used to do it will join a hallowed list of digital properties the United States doesn’t like. Top of that list currently is Kim Jong-un’s SnapChat handle.  

ICOs start massive layoffs amid crypto bear market

Some ICOs are fined into oblivion, others just quietly die on their own.

Steemit, whose social media-powered token STEEM was in its heyday one of the top six cryptocurrencies—it’s now 48th most popular—has laid off 70 percent of its staff. Basically, the current terrifying bear market has forced them to rethink their entire business strategy, which apparently involved hoping their speculative assets would not collapse. Whoops.

Per CEO Ned Scott, speaking on Youtube:

While we were building out our team over the last many months we have been relying on projections of basically a higher bottom for the market and since that’s no longer there, we’ve been forced to lay off more than 70 percent of our organization and begin a restructuring.

Still, at least Scott’s still retained his fighting spirit: “There’s nothing that I want more now than to survive, to keep steemit.com operating, and keep the mission alive, to make great communities.” Communities that are 70 percent smaller, of course.

In other news:

Elsewhere on Decrypt:

Read next: SEC makes conflicting statements on ICOs, admits you should listen to neither