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DOJ Wire Act Update – 90 Day Window for Compliance

This is a follow up to our recent blog post regarding the DOJ Opinion on its interpretation of the Wire Act. In a memo dated January 15, 2019, the Deputy Attorney General declared:

Department of Justice attorneys should adhere to the Office of Legal Counsel’s (OLC) interpretation, which represents the Department’s position on the meaning of the Wire Act. See 28 C.F.R. § 0.25.

However, as a matter of discretion, he further added:

Department of Justice attorneys should refrain from applying Section 1084(a) in criminal or civil actions to persons who engaged in conduct violating the Wire Act in reliance on the 2011 OLC opinion prior to the date of this memorandum, and for 90 days thereafter. A 90-day window will give businesses that relied on the 2011 OLC opinion time to bring their operations into compliance with federal law. This is an internal exercise of prosecutorial discretion; it is not a safe harbor for violations of the Wire Act.

This should give some comfort to some entities who relied on the 2011 memo. However, it is important to understand that this is not a complete safe harbor, but rather an exercise of prosecutorial discretion by the DOJ.

Copyright © 2019, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.

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James Mattinson Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency Lawyer Sheppard Mullin Washington DC
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Jim Gatto is a partner in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He is also Co-Team Leader of the firm's Digital Media Industry and Social Media and Games Industry Teams, Blockchain Technology and Digital Currency team, and Team Leader of the firm's Open Source Team. 

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Mr. Gatto leverages his unique combination of nearly 30 years of IP experience, business insights and attention to technology trends to help companies develop IP and other legal...

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