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  • District Court splits order against crypto platform


    On August 11, a split U.S District Court of the Southern District of New York partially granted and partially denied a crypto platform’s (defendant) motion to dismiss most charges for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Four months after plaintiff opened an account with defendant, a hacker siphoned approximately $5 million worth of Bitcoin from the account. Between the time the hacker accessed the account and withdrew the Bitcoin, plaintiff contacted the platform about being locked out of the account, to which defendant responded that the password change email could be in plaintiff’s spam folder. The complaint alleged that had the company locked the account, plaintiff would still have access to their Bitcoin, and that the platform has a duty to protect its customers’ assets and accounts. Among other things, the complaint also alleged that the platform violated the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA), the New York General Business Law, and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.

    In its motion to dismiss, defendant argued that Regulation E does not apply to the platform because the EFTA language does not explicitly cover cryptocurrency and only references denominations of the U.S. dollar. Although a separate case against the same defendant determined EFTA did apply to the platform since the statute’s “funds” reference could reasonably cover cryptocurrency (covered by InfoBytes here), the judge’s order focused on, “electronic fund transfer”. The court more closely considered the purpose of the account, expressing uncertainty as to whether it was for personal, family, or household purposes. The court found that the definition of an “account” under EFTA does not include plaintiff’s electronic fund transfer account which was established for investment purposes. In the previous case against the same defendant, the court held that the defendant deceived the users regarding its security measures, but the judge presiding over this case disagreed. The court cut the claims of misrepresentation finding that plaintiff failed to allege that the statements were false at the time they were made. The order denies two claims: (i) that the defendant misrepresented its security level; and (ii) that the defendant failed to meet EFTA requirements and its implementing Regulation E, because investment purposes accounts are precluded from the statute’s protections. The court granted the other four counts.

    Courts Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Fintech Digital Assets Cryptocurrency Bitcoin EFTA. New York Consumer Protection

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