Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018

Overnight Tech: Regulators to look at trading in bitcoin futures | Computer chip flaws present new security problem | Zuckerberg vows to improve Facebook in 2018
© Getty Images

REGULATORS TO LOOK INTO BITCOIN FUTURES TRADING: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said Thursday that it will meet on Jan. 31 to discuss the trading of cryptocurrency futures contracts.

The agency says that its technology and risk advisory committees will meet to discuss the self-certification process for such derivative contracts, focusing on "oversight, surveillance, and monitoring" of listed cryptocurrency derivatives.

"With the rapid development of financial technology products -- including cryptocurrencies -- and the corresponding demand for new and novel price discovery and risk management tools, the CFTC is poised to utilize its authority and expertise to ensure that the markets we oversee innovate responsibly within an appropriate oversight framework," said CFTC Commissioner Rostin Behnam.

Regulators and financial institutions have been wary of cryptocurrency futures, in part because of the price volatility of many cryptocurrencies.

The meeting comes after two exchanges launched bitcoin futures in December.

Cryptocurrencies have caught regulators attention in recent months following their meteoric rise over the past year. The value of major digital currencies like bitcoin, Ethereum and Ripple have increased by thousands of percent over the past year.

Read more here.


Please send your tips, comments and bomb cyclone puns to Ali Breland (abreland@thehill.com) and Harper Neidig (hneidig@thehill.com) and follow us on Twitter: @alibreland and @hneidig. We're also on Signal and WhatsApp. Email or DM us for our numbers.


SEC WARNS OF ILLEGAL CRYPTO TRADING: The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned investors Thursday that those firms and brokers who offer cryptocurrency investments are often breaking federal trading laws.

In a joint statement, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton and commissioners Kara Stein and Michael Piwowar also said the agency faces severe challenges in recovering losses for jilted cryptocurrency investors.

The SEC has reviewed cryptocurrencies that are traded as securities, holding them subject to the same disclosure laws as other commonly traded assets. The agency has blocked initial coin offerings (ICOs), sales of cryptocurrencies meant to raise capital for a business, that don't follow federal trading laws.

"It is clear that many promoters of ICOs and others participating in the cryptocurrency-related investment markets are not following these laws," the SEC said in its statement.

The SEC said those who purchase cryptocurrencies are entitled to protection under federal securities laws, but would have limited success getting restitution.

Read more here.


CRITICAL COMPUTER FLAWS PRESENT NEW SECURITY CHALLENGE: Two critical vulnerabilities that affect modern computer processing chips are about to become a huge headache for governments worldwide.

The vulnerabilities could allow hackers to pilfer sensitive data from virtually all modern computing devices, ranging from computers to smartphones to cloud infrastructure. Experts believe that they may be the most dangerous computer processor flaws to date.

The Department of Homeland Security issued guidance on the matter late Wednesday, noting that while operating system updates could help mitigate the issues, the only true solution would be to replace computer processing units' hardware.

This means that mitigating the flaws will likely cost federal, state and local governments a significant amount of time, money and effort.

The cyber-flaws, which were originally believed to only be in Intel chips, affect an array of chip vendors including, AMD, Google, Microsoft and Apple, and impacts millions of modern computing systems developed over the last decade.

Read more here.


INTEL STOCK SALE RAISES EYEBROWS: Intel CEO Brian Krzanich sold more than $20 million worth of company stock after his company had been informed of a massive cybersecurity flaw in its chips and prior to the company publicly disclosing the flaw.

Krzanich sold stock and exercised options worth a rough total of $24 million on Nov. 29, reducing his holdings of Intel shares to 245,743 -- the minimum required by his contract with the firm. The Intel CEO's sale occurred as developers were racing to fix enormous vulnerabilities in their computer processors.

Though the sale raises insider trading concerns, the Securities and Exchange Commission has not publicly said if it will investigate Krzanich.

Intel says that his selloff came independently of the vulnerabilities and notes that it was preplanned.

Read more here.


ANTI-SEX TRAFFICKING BILL WINS 60 CO-SPONSORS: A Senate sex trafficking bill that has worried the tech industry now has the support of 60 co-sponsors, ensuring that the legislation will be able to bypass a filibuster.

Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms How Kavanaugh got the votes  Collins to support Kavanaugh, securing enough votes for confirmation MORE (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), the original sponsors of the bill, announced on Wednesday that the legislation had won over three more Republicans: Sens. Mike RoundsMarion (Mike) Michael RoundsOn The Money: Deficit hits six-year high of 9 billion | Yellen says Trump attacks threaten Fed | Affordable housing set for spotlight in 2020 race Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks GOP shrugs off dire study warning of global warming MORE (S.D.), Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyDisasters become big chunk of U.S. deficit Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks Florida politics play into disaster relief debate MORE (Ala.) and Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsEvangelical leader: Not worth risking ties with Saudi Arabia over missing journalist GOP loads up lame-duck agenda as House control teeters Congress allows farm bill to lapse before reauthorization deadline MORE (Kan.).

"Today is another important milestone in our fight to hold online sex traffickers accountable and help give trafficking survivors the justice they deserve," Portman and Blumenthal said in a joint statement. "There continues to be strong bipartisan support and momentum for this bill, and behind our efforts to help ensure that sex traffickers are brought to justice."

Read more here.


ZUCKERBERG'S RESOLUTION: Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Russia-linked hackers hit Eastern European companies | Twitter shares data on influence campaigns | Dems blast Trump over China interference claims | Saudi crisis tests Silicon Valley | Apple to let customers download their data Public funds support proposal to remove Zuckerberg as Facebook chairman Obama responds to several excuses people give for not voting in new video MORE is vowing to devote 2018 to improving Facebook after a year in which the platform was heavily scrutinized over disinformation campaigns and abusive content that proliferated on the site.

"My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues," Zuckerberg wrote in a post on Thursday.

"We won't prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we're successful this year then we'll end 2018 on a much better trajectory."

The Facebook co-founder acknowledged the growing movement that is concerned about the size and influence of giant tech companies, saying that he will take a closer look at tools that give more control to users, citing cryptocurrency and encryption.

Read more here.



The Carnegie Endowment for Peace will hold an event exploring "Iran's Cyber Threat" at 12:30 p.m.



The Guardian: Facebook declines to say why it deletes certain political accounts, but not others

CNBC: Ripple co-founder is now richer than the Google founders on paper

Bloomberg: Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook to look into cryptocurrency

CNN: Update your software today. Seriously

Wired: A simple algorithm reveals the truth about voter ID laws