Our top story today is that Microsoft has been granted a 6-week extension on the UK deadline to complete its $69bn acquisition of Activision. The deadline, originally 18th July, has now been extended to the 29th August. The UK’s CMA originally blocked the deal in April with the extension following a new proposal for the acquisition that the UK regulator described as “detailed and complex”. As part of Microsoft’s bid to address antitrust concerns, the multinational tech company announced an agreement on Sunday to keep Activision’s flagship game Call of Duty, on PlayStation, a competitor of Microsoft’s Xbox console. This follows a decision by the US Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit on Friday to deny the FTC’s motion to temporarily delay the deal.
Read more below for a round-up of the other major tech policy stories currently shaping the industry.
A US appeals court has temporarily lifted the limits on government contact with social media companies that were imposed by a Louisiana court in June. Judge Terry Doughty’s ruling on July 4th applied a temporary injunction limiting government contact with social media companies whilst considering the facts of a case concerning First Amendment rights. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals emergency stay on this injunction, made on Friday, will be in effect until a panel of judges has considered the government’s appeal of Doughty’s ruling. In appealing Doughty’s ruling, the Biden administration stated that the Louisiana judge’s decision raised concerns about the separation of powers arguing that the judgment placed the judicial branch of government in a ‘superintendent’ position over the executive branch.
The UN Security Council will hold a discussion in New York on Tuesday, chaired by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to discuss the risks associated with AI. This will be the UN Security Council’s first meeting on the emerging technology and follows support in June by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the introduction of a UN AI agency. The presidency of the Security Council rotates to a different UN nation each month, with Tuesday’s talks on AI forming a central component of the UK’s July presidency. The meeting will include contributions from experts and Guterres who has announced that an advisory board will be formed in September to guide UN decision-making on AI.
Coinbase has announced that it is pausing its staking service in four US states following state securities lawsuits filed in June. The announcement made on Friday will impact users in California, New Jersey, South Carolina and Wisconsin. The cryptocurrency exchange’s staking service allows retail investors to agree to hold assets for a given period of time in return for rewards. An SEC lawsuit was filed against Coinbase on June 6th, with ten US states’ securities agencies challenging the platform’s staking service on the same day. Staking services have been paused in four of these states after state agencies in these jurisdictions issued preliminary orders for the platform to stop offering the service whilst legal proceedings are ongoing.
CNBC has reported that Binance’s layoffs could continue whilst a US DoJ investigation is ongoing. The CNBC report comes after the WSJ reported 1,000 Binance employees were laid off on Friday. This follows CTFC charges against Binance which were filed in March and SEC charges which were filed in June. The SEC’s Crypto crackdown also includes legal action against Coinbase with both lawsuits centred on the allegation that the tokens which are traded on the platforms are securities. A related development in the US cryptocurrency litigation landscape came last week after it was found that Ripple’s XRP tokens are not securities when sold on an exchange