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Category Archives: Financial System

H&R Block, Meta, and Google Slapped With RICO Suit

Gizmodo: “Anyone who has used H&R Block’s tax return preparation services in recent years may have unintentionally helped line Meta and Google’s pockets. That’s according to a new class action lawsuit which alleges the three companies “jointly schemed” to install trackers on the H&R Block site to scan and transmit tax data back to the tech companies which then used elements of the data to engage in targeted advertising. Attorneys bringing the case forward claim the three companies’ conduct amounts to a “pattern of racketeering activity” covered under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a tool typically reserved for organized crime. “H&R Block, Google, and Meta ignored data privacy laws, and passed information about people’s financial lives around like candy,” Brent Wisner, one of the attorneys bringing forward the complaint said. The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California this week, stems from a bombshell Congressional report released earlier this year detailing the way multiple tax preparation firms, including H&R Block, “recklessly” shared the sensitive tax data of tens of millions of Americans without proper safeguards. At issue are the tax preparation firms’ use of tracking “pixels” placed on their websites. These trackers, which the lawsuit refers to as “spy cams” would allegedly scan tax documents and reveal a variety of personal tax information, including a filer’s name, filing status, federal taxes owed, address, and number of dependents. That data was then anonymized and used for targeted advertising and to train Meta’s AI algorithms, the congressional report notes. The IRS places strong privacy protections over tax data and has rules prohibiting tax preparation firms from using that information for any reason other than assisting in tax returns.”

OIG Report – Material Loss Review of Silicon Valley Bank

“The Office of Inspector General for the Federal Reserve System and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released Evaluation Report 2023-SR-B-013, Material Loss Review of Silicon Valley Bank, September 25, 2023, a review of the Federal Reserve Board’s supervision of Silicon Valley Bank. In a letter responding to the OIG’s report, the Federal Reserve Board’s… Continue Reading

How Americans see the state of gender and leadership in business

“Women now account for record shares of Fortune 500 chief executives and board members in the United States – 10.6% and 30.4%, respectively. Still, the share of women in top business leadership positions remains well below their share of the population. A majority of Americans (55%) say there are too few women in top executive… Continue Reading

Supreme Corporate Tax Giveaway: Who Would Benefit from the Roberts Court Striking Down the Mandatory Repatriation Tax?

Roosevelt Institute and the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP): Executive Summary – “Later this year, the Supreme Court will hear what could become the most important tax case in a century. In Moore v. US, ostensibly about the tax liability of an American family with minority shares in an Indian farming firm, the… Continue Reading

You Can Now Get Your Free Credit Report Every Week, Forever

Lifehacker: “Monitoring your credit history regularly reduces the likelihood that reporting errors (best case) or identity theft (worst case) will derail your financial health—and you can now do this at no cost every single week, indefinitely, through Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, each credit bureau offered one free credit report per… Continue Reading

SEC obtains Wall Street firms’ private chats in probe of WhatsApp, Signal use

Ars Technica: “The US Securities and Exchange Commission has “collected thousands of staff messages from more than a dozen major investment companies” as it expands a probe into how employees and executives at Wall Street firms use private messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Signal, Reuters reported today, citing “four people with direct knowledge of… Continue Reading

Delegitimizing the Supreme Court: The Lessons of Dred Scott

Booth, Jonathon, Delegitimizing the Supreme Court: The Lessons of Dred Scott (August 28, 2023). 51 UC Law Constitutional Quarterly, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: “This Article examines how anti-slavery Republicans delegitimized the Supreme Court in the aftermath of Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393 (1857) and compares this history to contemporary attempts to reform… Continue Reading

Behind the Scenes at ‘Have I Been Pwned’

Via Slashdot and contributor slincolne [the link is behind a paywall]: “The founder of the data-breach notification site Have I Been Pwned manages “the largest known repository of stolen data on the planet,” reports Australia’s public broadcaster ABC, including over 6 billion email address. Yet with no employees, Troy Hunt manages all of the technical… Continue Reading

The Man Who Trapped Us in Databases

The New York Times [read free]- “Hank Asher was a drug smuggler with a head for numbers — until he figured out how to turn Americans’ private information into a big business. One of Asher’s innovations — or more precisely one of his companies’ innovations — was what is now known as the LexID. My… Continue Reading

UK Proposed principles to guide competitive AI markets and protect consumers

Gov.UK – September 18, 2023: “The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today published a report following its initial review of foundation models (FMs) and has proposed principles which aim to ensure consumer protection and healthy competition are at the heart of responsible development and use of FMs. FMs are artificial intelligence (AI) systems with… Continue Reading

Political contributions, enhanced

Jeremy Singer-Vine, Data is Plural: “Political scientist Adam Bonica’s Database on Ideology, Money in Politics, and Elections (DIME) gathers “500 million itemized political contributions made by individuals and organizations to local, state, and federal elections covering from 1979 to 2020.” The project, which received a major update last month, “is intended to make data on… Continue Reading