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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Speaking on Thursday at Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit in San Francisco, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission director of Corporate Finance William Hinman said that digital token ether is not a security.

Why it matters: The digital currency industry has been awaiting for more regulatory clarity for some time, particularly around widely popular cryptocurrencies like ether and bitcoin. SEC chairman Jay Clayton recently said that the latter is akin to a currency, much to the relief of the industry.

Note: While Hinman declared ether not a security, he was careful to specify that he's referring to the token today.

  • "Putting aside the fundraising that accompanied the creation of Ether... current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions, " he said. "Over time, there may be other sufficiently decentralized networks and systems where regulating the tokens or coins that function on them as securities may not be required," he added, echoing recent comments by SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce who also posited that some digital tokens may seem like securities when first issued, but could change in status over time.
  • This is important as it signals that it's not a blanket pass for all tokens, and that the commission will be focused on issuance of tokens and how they fit in with securities laws.

Still in question: Whether Ripple's XRP token is considered a security or not.

Go deeper

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
9 mins ago - Health

Vaccine-hesitant Americans cite inaccurate side effects

Expand chart
Data: Harris Poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

An alarming amount of vaccine-hesitant people who list side effects as a top concern falsely believe the vaccines cause death, DNA alteration, infertility or birth defects, according to recent Harris polling.

Why it matters: Respondents also listed blood clots, which are a real side effect of some coronavirus vaccines, but extremely rare. This survey suggests that misinformation or a skewed understanding of risk may be behind a sizable portion of vaccine hesitancy.

1 hour ago - Technology
Column / Tech Agenda

The new digital extortion

Shoshana Gordon/Axios

If you run a hospital, a bank, a utility or a city, chances are you'll be hit with a ransomware attack. Given the choice between losing your precious data or paying up, chances are you'll pay.

Why it matters: Paying the hackers is the clear short-term answer for most organizations hit with these devastating attacks, but it's a long-term societal disaster, encouraging hackers to continue their lucrative extortion schemes.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC mask guidance sparks confusion, questions

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The CDC's surprise guidance last week freeing the fully vaccinated to go maskless sowed plenty of concerns across the country— even earning the "Saturday Night Live" treatment for all the questions it spurred.

Why it matters: With plenty of Americans still unvaccinated — and without any good way to confirm who has been vaccinated — some experts worry this could put many at increased risk.