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Policy

‘Gun-Shy’: How Federal Prosecutors Forgot Silicon Valley

The tech industry has become known for risk-takers and rule breakers. But for nearly 20 years, it hasn’t had a prosecutor willing to take it on.

The number of white-collar cases prosecuted by the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California has plunged from a peak of 354 in 1995 to 72 in fiscal 2018. And the prosecutor’s office in recent years has developed a reputation for timidity. The question now is whether the incoming U.S. attorney, David Anderson, who is awaiting Senate confirmation, will shake things up. (See chart below.)

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Prosecutors in the San Francisco office “will do anything to avoid litigation.”