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  • DOJ Files Charges Against Baller Ape Club 'Rug Pull'
    The Department of Justice this afternoon announced criminal charges against the creator of the Baller Ape Club NFT collection for orchestrating a so-called "rug pull." From a report: The charges, announced alongside those in three other cryptocurrency fraud cases, mark the second time that federal prosecutors have gone after an NFT "rug-pull" scheme, in which an NFT project's creators sell NFTs on false promises of community benefits and utility, only to abandon the project and make away with investors' funds. Le Anh Traun, a Vietnamese national, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit international money laundering. Traun allegedly collected $2.6 million from Baller Ape NFT buyers, only to shortly thereafter delete the organization's website and launder the funds. According to the Justice Department, he converted the ill-gotten gains into different cryptocurrencies and moved them across multiple blockchains, in a practice known as "chain-hopping." If convicted, Traun could face up to 40 years in prison.

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  • Thunderbird 102 Released
    slack_justyb writes: Thunderbird 102 has been released with some new UI improvements and new features. There has been a change in the icons, the layout of the address book has been upgraded to feature a more modern UI, and a new UI feature known as the spaces toolbar to get around Thunderbird. New features include an updated import and export wizard, a UI for editing the email header settings, and Matrix client support within Thunderbird, which is a messaging system using HTTPS that is similar to Discord if you've used that. Finally, the Thunderbird Twitter account released the first screenshot of the new UI that is being targeted for the 114 release. For those wondering what the Thunderbird team has done and is doing, you can always head over to the planning section of the developer site. The roadmap are things they're working on the current release and the backlog are the things they are working towards.

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  • TikTok Confirms Some China-Based Employees Can Access US User Data
    TikTok, the viral video-sharing app owned by China's ByteDance, said certain employees outside the US can access information from American users, stoking further criticism from lawmakers who have raised alarms about the social network's data-sharing practices. From a report: The company's admission came in a letter to nine US senators who accused TikTok and its parent of monitoring US citizens and demanded answers on what's becoming a familiar line of questioning for the company: Do China-based employees have access to US users' data? What role do those employees play in shaping TikTok's algorithm? Is any of that information shared with the Chinese government? Currently, China-based employees who clear a number of internal security protocols can access certain information on TikTok's US users, including public videos and comments, TikTok Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew said in the June 30 letter obtained by Bloomberg News. None of that information is shared with the Chinese government, and it is subject to "robust cybersecurity controls," he said. The social network said it's working with the US government on strengthening data security around that information -- particularly anything defined as "protected" by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, or CFIUS.

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  • Amazon Agrees To Drop Prime Cancellation 'Dark Patterns' in Europe
    Amazon has agreed to simplify the process required for cancelling its Prime membership subscription service across its sites in the European Union, both on desktop and mobile interfaces, following a series of complaints from regional consumer protection groups. From a report: The coordinated complaints about Amazon's confusing and convoluted cancellation process for Prime were announced back in April 2021 -- so it's taken just over a year for the e-commerce giant to agree to change its ways. Following the engagement with EU regulators, the Commission said today that Amazon started to make some revisions to the Prime web interface -- such as labelling the cancel button more clearly and shortening the explanatory text -- but today's announcement is that it has agreed to further simplify the experience by further reducing the text so consumers do not get distracted by warnings and deterred from cancelling.

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  • FTX Signs Deal That Could Buy BlockFi For Up To $240 Million
    Troubled crypto lender BlockFi said Friday that it agreed to an option to be acquired by FTX for up to $240 million. From a report: The acquisition figure would include performance incentives, and BlockFi didn't specify how much would be an upfront payment. The deal with FTX also includes a $400 million revolving credit facility from the crypto exchange operator from FTX.

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  • Klarna To Raise Fresh Cash at Slashed $6.5 Billion Valuation
    Klarna Bank is nearing a deal to raise new money at a valuation of around $6.5 billion, WSJ reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter, a humbling comedown and a testament to the punishing environment facing startup companies. From a report: The Sweden-based specialty lending and online payments provider is negotiating to raise about $650 million mostly from existing investors led by Sequoia Capital, the people said. Michael Moritz, who is the chairman of the well-known venture-capital firm, serves in the same role at Klarna. The deal has yet to be completed and could still hit last minute snags, the people said. But if completed, it would represent a huge discount on the company's valuation when investors led by an arm of SoftBank Group valued Klarna at $45.6 billion in June 2021.

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  • UK Seeks Science Collaboration Further Afield After EU Freeze
    The UK is rattling off a series of international science agreements with a message to the European Union: if you don't want our money, we'll do deals elsewhere. From a report: Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a memorandum of understanding with his New Zealand counterpart, Jacinda Ardern, on Friday, aimed at easing UK access to the Pacific nation's quantum and agricultural technology. The UK has already negotiated similar agreements with Israel, Switzerland and Canada -- as well as EU member Sweden, and is hoping to seal more with Japan, Singapore, South Korea and certain US states. The drive comes as the government seeks to diversify the country's scientific collaboration after the UK was frozen out of the EU's $96 billion Horizon research program because of tensions stemming from Britain's plan to override the part of the Brexit deal governing Northern Ireland. The majority of the UK's international science budget -- around $18 billion -- is usually spent helping to fund Horizon.

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  • EU Moves To Rein in 'Wild West' of Crypto Assets With New Rules
    The EU has moved to rein in the "wild west" of crypto assets by agreeing a groundbreaking set of rules for the sector, adding to pressure on the UK and US to introduce their own curbs. From a report: Representatives from the European parliament and EU states inked an agreement late on Thursday that contains measures to guard against market abuse and manipulation, as well as requiring that crypto firms provide details of the environmental impact of their assets. "Today, we put order in the wild west of crypto assets and set clear rules for a harmonised market," said Stefan Berger, the German MEP who led negotiations on behalf of the parliament. Referring to the recent slump in cryptocurrency prices -- the total value of the market has fallen from $3tn last year to less than $900bn -- Berger added: "The recent fall in the value of digital currencies shows us how highly risky and speculative they are and that it is fundamental to act." The markets in crypto assets (MiCA) law is expected to come into force at about the end of 2023. Globally, crypto assets are largely unregulated, with national operators in the EU required only to show controls for combating money laundering.

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  • Facebook Groups Are Being Revamped To Look Like Discord
    Facebook Groups are about to get some big changes, and if you've used Discord, the new approach should seem pretty darn familiar. From a report: Meta is testing a new left-aligned sidebar and channels list for Groups, and the changes are giving me some serious Discord vibes. Meta is even evoking Discord with a purple accent color. Central to the changes is a new sidebar that lists your groups with rounded square icons. Like with Discord and Slack, you'll be able to pin groups so that they show up first on the list. Individual groups will have a new menu that seems lifted right from Discord. The menu organizes things like channels, Messenger conversations, and events one after another.

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  • ADT Is Betting Google Can Drag It Into the Future
    The century-old security giant best known for its octagonal blue logo is banking on a smart-home partnership with a company that's also one of its biggest threats. From a report: Kneeling beneath a framed print of Thomas Kinkade's painting A Peaceful Retreat, Roli Chiu, alarm system installer, began his work one day in March by unpacking boxes of devices inside a new customer's living room. It would take him five hours to set up the system. He'd begin with the command panel in the grand foyer of the 4,000-square-foot home in a Palmetto Bay, Fla., gated community -- then connect it to all the new door and window sensors, motion detectors, and smoke and carbon monoxide monitors. Yet Chiu, who estimates he's installed systems at 15,000 homes in his two decades at ADT, thought this one could benefit from a bunch of Google gadgets that the company would soon add to its portfolio. "When the Nest cameras come -- oh my goodness -- that's going to be a game changer," he said. "I love having Google on our side." A professionally outfitted ADT system can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and in recent years the company has begun to face competition from DIY-friendly devices such as Google's Nest Cams and video doorbells, Arlo, SimpliSafe, and Amazon.com's Ring, which many homeowners have felt can offer similar peace of mind at a fraction of the cost. Then Google surprised investors in August 2020 by revealing it would buy a 6.6% stake in ADT for $450 million. As part of the deal, the companies also agreed to jointly develop products, integrate services, and have ADT's thousands of installers and salespeople promote Google's hardware. By the time Chiu began his wiring work in the Palmetto Bay home 18 months after the deal closed, it had become evident that ADT had gone all in on the Google partnership. Chiu wore a new corporate shirt emblazoned with the Google logo -- the "super G," as employees call it -- and said his ADT truck in the driveway would soon be rebranded with Google decals. He praised Google's facial recognition technology and advanced Wi-Fi (while dinging Ring's apparently weak battery life). Across the living room, his ADT colleague, sales adviser Jordan Hernandez, talked up Google's products in front of the homeowner. "With our Google Home package, you can get the Google door lock, the Google doorbell, the Google Hub and Mini speaker for $600," he explained, adding that the devices would cost a lot more if bought separately. For ADT, a business with roots that can be traced to the 1870s, the association with an internet titan gives its services a new sheen. In addition to installation fees, ADT's 24/7 alarm monitoring usually involves three-year contracts priced from about $28 to $60 a month. The tech giants pursuing the smart home have challenged that model, just as streaming platforms caused people to rethink their relationships with cable conglomerates such as Comcast.

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