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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Hannover Messe 2016

Die Hannover Messe 2016 war ein grosser Erfolg. Die USA als Partnerland war sehr stark vertreten.
Präsident Barack Obama hat gemeinsam mit Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel die Messe eröffnet. Hervorzuheben ist, dass Tausende von Ausstellern und Hunderttausende von Besuchern eine sehr ausgelassene deutsch-amerikanische Freundschaft erlebten.
BridgehouseLaw war mit zwei Partnern vertreten, Sebastian Meis und Reinhard von Hennigs nahmen an der Messe teil. Reinhard von Hennigs war Teil der Delegation aus dem Bundesstaat North Carolina und der Charlotte Regional Partnership. Die Gespräche, die es mit potentiellen neuen Gesellschaften gab, die nach Charlotte bzw. North Carolina expandieren wollen, waren sehr aufschlussreich.

Eines der Highlights war, dass von der in Charlotte ansässigen Olde Mecklenburg Brewery rund 13.000 Flaschen Bier auf der Hannover Messe zur Verfügung gestellt worden sind, und diese bei verschiedenen Empfängen als in Charlotte gebrautes Bier verköstigt wurde. Auf diesem Wege nochmals Herzlichen Dank an OMB, es war eine Attraktion der Region.

Grosses Thema bei der Messe war Industrie 4.0, oder wie es auch in Amerika heisst "internet of things" oder Automation. Viele Aussteller hatten diesen Schwerpunkt, und einige konkrete Anfragen von Ausstellern gab es auch Richtung North CArolina.

Wer mehr Informationen zu Industrietrends von der Hannover Messe haben möchte, kann sich bei Reinhard von Hennigs im BridgehouseLaw Büro Charlotte melden.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Chip in the Card (part II)

As discussed in our April newsletter (see "The Chip in the Card"), as the cyber technology evolves, so do opportunities for hackers to exploit the digital information systems developed. With the summer travel season quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to consider how safe RFID credit cards really are and how you can benefit from the advances in technology while still protecting yourself from identity theft.
A "radio frequency identification" or "RFID" credit card is one that has a chip embedded in the card that contains and broadcasts information that is traditionally carried on the magnetic stripe on the back of a credit card. These tiny chips are often embedded not just in credit cards, but also in security badges, grocery goods, passports, and even in implanted medical records or pet tags. In fact, many retail establishments in both the U.S. and Europe, especially restaurants, no longer swipe credit cards. Also, since August of 2007, all new U.S. passports issued contain RFID Chips, and by 2017, all U.S. passports will contain RFID chips.
Credit cards with RFID chips use "passive tags," which emit a radio signal to transmit limited amounts of information over a small distance by a remote scanner. Because information can be transmitted over short distances, this means that the RFID chip and card reader only need to be within a certain range of each other to communicate information.
This "contactless" data transmission that RFID credit cards can be vulnerable to hacking even despite the fact that the credit cards are still tucked away in your wallet or purse.
Tips To Protect Your RFID Credit Card Information:
-  To block the RFID chips from being read, invest in RFID Blocking Technology in the form of a pocket, money belt, or neck wallet. These products are made with technologically advanced fabrics that contain thin metal fibers to block frequency.
-  Alternatively, you could wrap your credit cards or your passport in aluminum foil for the same effect, because metal blocks the radio signal and prevents the data from being read. However, the most effective RFID-protecting sleeves are those that use a "electromagnetically opaque" Faraday Cage within a leather exterior. While less durable, Faraday cages in paper sleeves are very effective for protecting digital information.
- Regularly check your financial statements (such as daily, weekly, or monthly) to ensure there are no suspicious charges.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The real value of virtual currencies

Virtual currencies like "coins", "tokens" and "points" have become increasingly popular in e-commerce in recent years. In simple terms, "virtual currency" is a digital representation of value that is not government-issued and can be traded and used as a medium of exchange to facilitate online or other electronic transactions. Social media platforms, online games, retailers and other businesses use forms of virtual currencies. iTunes users for example can buy prepaid gift cards which contain credits that can be redeemed for music and movies. Buying virtual currency allows users to make transactions without using credit card or bank account information. In this context, mobile payments like Google Wallet are becoming standard practice, especially for small amounts. Bitcoin is another example for a virtual currency. Transactions are completely decentralized and do not require a third-party intermediary such as PayPal or Visa. Since all parts of transactions are performed by the users of the system, it offers lower transaction costs than traditional payment methods.
Besides the benefits of virtual currencies, they emerge real legal issues for companies who operate or are considering to develop virtual currencies systems and for the issuer of virtual currencies. One of the disadvantages of virtual currencies is that they are not backed by banks or governments. Other concerns are its potential for money laundering, its treatment under federal securities law and its status in the foreign exchange trading. An issuer could be subject to state and federal regulatory law regarding operational, financial and liability matters. These may include requirements to give unused virtual currency balances to states, requirements to avoid illegal lotteries and privacy and data security issues. For companies using virtual currency it is important to identify the specific federal and state laws and create virtual currency platforms according to them. The implementation of effective Terms of Service, privacy policy and disclaimers has to be considered too.
According to the U.S. Constitution, the authority to coin money and regulate the value thereof falls upon Congress. But until now Congressional actions are in a exploratory phase. The Government Accountability Office (GOA) was asked to review tax issues with digital currency. It is not clear if virtual currencies should be treated as digital currency, property, barter or foreign currency. Since virtual currencies take place outside the banking industry, the Federal Reserve also has no ability to supervise and regulate the currency. Some states like the New York have taking steps to set up new regulations.
At the moment there is a lack of clarity how existing law and regulations can be applied. As virtual currencies continue to grow, the future challenges will be to cover the legal issues around virtual currencies.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

The Chip in the Card

In the past year, you may have received a new credit or debit card with a small microchip embedded in it.  Such Chip 'n' PIN cards or "EMV" (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) cards are being issued by many banks and credit card providers in the United States in an effort to prevent card-skimming operations and undermine large-scale credit card breaches - such as the massive data breach at Target in 2013, where approximately 40 million consumers had credit card information stolen.
On traditional credit cards, the magnetic stripe on the back of the card contains personal information about the cardholder that is used to authenticate the credit card at a point of sale (PoS) terminal before the purchase is authorized. This process is frequently exploited. Increases in technology have allowed hackers to develop methods like "card-skimming" to emboss stolen data and record the card number and PIN onto a blank card for fraudulent purchases.
Why The Switch to Microchips?
Because technology is available on the black market for both reading and writing the magnetic stripes, making cards easy to clone and use without the owner's knowledge, many U.S. banks and retailers are replacing magnetic-stripe credit and debit cards with microchip cards. When a consumer uses an EMV card at a chip PoS terminal, that transaction is protected using the microchip technology and prevents card-skimming operations.
How It Works
EMV cards have an embedded microchip that authenticates the card to prevent hackers from copying stolen card data for fraudulent transactions. The microchip contains the same information that is stored on a traditional card's magnetic stripe, but it also has a certificate used to digitally sign each transaction. Unlike traditional magnetic-stripe cards, every time an EMV card is used for payment, the card chip creates a unique transaction code that cannot be used again. Thus, even if a thief steals the card data, the code needed for a transaction can't be generated without the certificate. Experts hope this technology will help significantly reduce fraud in the U.S.
EMV cards are already implemented widely in Europe and Canada.
If you believe you have been a victim of credit card fraud, contact your credit card company immediately, reach out to your local law enforcement office, and file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) at

Friday, April 01, 2016

Promoting Smart Gun Technology

On January 4, 2016, President Obama unveiled in a Presidential Memoranda his new plan to control gun violence in America. His proposals are to perform background checks and tighter rules for gun buyers. Therefore, President Obama directs:

·     “Section 1. Research and Development. The Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security (departments) shall, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology that would reduce the frequency of accidental discharge or unauthorized use of firearms, and improve the tracing of lost or stolen guns.”

·         “Section 2.  Department Consideration of New Technology. The departments shall, to the extent permitted by law, regularly (a) review the availability of the technology described in section 1, and (b) explore potential ways to further its use and development to more broadly improve gun safety.  In connection with these efforts, the departments shall consult with other agencies that acquire firearms and take appropriate steps to consider whether including such technology in specifications for acquisition of firearms would be consistent with operational needs.”

In conclusion President Obama hereby authorized and directed the Attorney General to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

What are the differences between Executive Orders, Executive Actions and Presidential Memoranda?

Executive Actions are just actions – for example: informal proposals or moves – made by a president. Executive Actions can include Executive Orders, but they can also include Presidential Memoranda, Proclamations, or any number of other ways the president directs the operations of the executive branch. But most Executive Actions carry no legal weight. Those that do actually set policy can be invalidated by the courts or undone by legislation passed by Congress.

An Executive Order is a specific type of Executive Action — an official, legally binding mandate passed down from the president to federal agencies under the executive branch. Executive Orders are legally binding and published in the Federal Register, though they also can be reversed by the courts and Congress.

Presidential Memoranda are similar to Executive Orders in that they carry legal weight allowing the president to direct government officials and agencies. Unless the President determines the rules have "general applicability and legal effect”, the Presidential Memoranda are usually not printed in the Federal Register.

by: A. Magel, BridgehouseLaw LLP, Atlanta, GA