Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Mon 7/17 - Big4 AUS Scandal, Meta Fines in Norway, Dershowitz Fines Here, MS Reports Email Leaks from Government Agencies

Mon 7/17 - Big4 AUS Scandal, Meta Fines in Norway, Dershowitz Fines Here, MS Reports Email Leaks from Government Agencies

We have Big4 Australia scandal expanding, Meta faces huge fines in Norway, Dershowitz ordered to pay up in election fraud suits, and Microsoft reports China has stolen emails from government agencies.

On this day in history, July 17, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the second Confiscation Act. The act allowed for the confiscation of property of confederate sympathizers.

The Confiscation Act of 1862 was a significant piece of legislation passed by the United States Congress during the American Civil War, at least rhetorically if not practically. The act aimed to target the property of Confederate sympathizers and supporters. It authorized the Union government to seize the assets, including land and slaves, of individuals engaged in rebellion against the United States. The act played a crucial role in undermining the economic and social foundations of the Confederacy by depriving it of valuable resources as it authorized not only the freeing of enslaved individuals but the prohibition on the re-enslavement of escaped individuals. It also set the stage for the eventual emancipation of slaves, as it allowed the Union to confiscate the property of slaveholders who actively supported the rebellion. However, the act's implementation varied across different regions and faced legal and practical challenges and, following Lincoln’s assassination, it went entirely unenforced by his successor Andrew Johnson. 

A parliamentary inquiry into the PwC Australia tax leak scandal has prompted questioning of several major accounting and consulting firms. Deloitte Australia, EY Australia, and Accenture are scheduled to participate in the two-day hearing, starting Monday, prompted by PwC Australia's unauthorized sharing of confidential tax data it acquired while consulting for the government. McKinsey Australia has declined to attend, drawing criticism from Greens Senator Barbara Pocock who initiated the inquiry. Other key figures include ex-KPMG partner Brendan Lyon and former PwC Australia director Tracy Murray. PwC Australia recently disclosed its fiscal year 2022 revenue was 27% from public sector contracts and that it made A$3 billion. In the wake of the scandal, PwC sold its government advisory arm and is undergoing a review of its tax governance and internal control framework. Details about an internal investigation into the tax leak will be shared with the inquiry later this month.

EY, Deloitte, Accenture Face Questions at PwC Tax Leak Inquiry

Meta Platforms, owner of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a daily fine of one million Norwegian crowns ($100,000) for privacy breaches, according to Norway's data protection authority, Datatilsynet. The regulator stated the fine would be implemented daily from August 4 to November 3 unless Meta takes remedial actions. The issue pertains to Meta's use of user data, such as physical location, for targeted advertising, a practice deemed illegal. Meta is planning to review Datatilsynet's decision, stating there would be no immediate impact on its services. The case has been referred to the European Data Protection Board, potentially widening the decision's influence across Europe. This follows the EU's top court ruling against Meta's user data harvesting for behavioral advertising. Despite not being an EU member, Norway is part of the European single market.

Norway regulator to fine Meta over privacy breaches | Reuters

Retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz has been ordered to pay 10% of a $122,200 sanction related to a lawsuit by Kari Lake, a failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate. The lawsuit attempted to prohibit the use of electronic voting machines in Arizona's 2022 midterm elections. Despite Dershowitz's claims of a limited role in the case, U.S. District Judge John Tuchi held that Dershowitz's signature on numerous filings was sanctionable. Judge Tuchi stressed that failing to impose sanctions might encourage similar conduct without facing consequences. The remainder of the legal team, Andrew Parker and Kurt B. Olsen, are responsible for the rest of the sanctions. The lawsuit was dismissed in August. Parker stated that they plan to appeal the ruling, while Dershowitz and his attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

Alan Dershowitz ordered to pay limited sanctions in Arizona election case | Reuters

Microsoft reported that Chinese hackers obtained one of its digital keys and exploited a flaw in the company's code to steal emails from U.S. government agencies and other clients. The undisclosed means by which the hackers obtained the key was combined with a validation error in Microsoft's code to execute the cyberespionage operation. The victims included at least two U.S. government agencies: the State and Commerce Departments. The hack has strained both the cybersecurity industry and U.S.-China relations, with Beijing denying any involvement. This incident has sparked calls for Microsoft to offer its highest level of digital auditing, known as logging, free to all customers. Microsoft stated it is considering the feedback and is in active engagement with U.S. officials. The company has not provided details on how the hackers acquired the digital key.

Microsoft says Chinese hackers used code flaw to steal emails from US agencies | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at