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Regulatory rollercoaster: Five key developments you need to know

What shifts do you need to know for the coming months? We highlight some notable regulatory developments in North America, from Nasdaq’s new diversity requirements to the fight for power at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

On December 1, 2020, Nasdaq asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for permission to require the 3,249 companies listed on its main stock exchange to report data on board diversity or risk being delisted. Per Nasdaq, “the rules would require most Nasdaq-listed companies to have, or explain why they do not have, at least two diverse directors, including one who self-identifies as female and one who self-identifies as either an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ+.” Companies will be required to disclose their board diversity or explain why they cannot adhere to such standards.
The SEC launched a new standalone office on December 3, dedicated to financial technology. The agency’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) will “strengthen its ability to foster innovation in emerging technologies,” such as digital currency and other digital assets.
Brian Brooks, acting Comptroller of the Currency, said on December 4 that new regulations on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are coming soon but downplayed concerns that the new rules would be disruptive.
On December 8, the Senate voted to confirm Republican nominee Nathan Simington to the FCC, setting up a 2-2 deadlock at the agency. If a Republican-led Senate refuses to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to replace outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, it could bring the commission to a halt.
On December 9, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing that discussed what the government is doing to develop a successor to the now invalid EU-US Privacy Shield. Representatives from the tech industry reiterated the need for a more cost-effective alternative to the defunct global pact as soon as possible.