The FTC’s Twitter privateness investigations have ramped up since Elon Musk’s takeover


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The Federal Commerce Fee (FTC) had its eye on Twitter since effectively earlier than Elon Musk purchased the outfit, however now we’ve a greater concept about what questions it’s been asking these days. Not solely have the investigations continued, however the FTC has been trying into the corporate’s skills to maintain consumer knowledge safe, the event of the Twitter Blue subscription plan, and pulling collectively data on the actions of the corporate’s new proprietor.

As reported by the Wall Road Journal and New York Occasions, the Choose Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Authorities — a part of the Republican-led Home Judiciary Committee — revealed the requests in a brand new report (PDF), calling the FTC’s actions harassment and overreach.

In response to the report, “the FTC has now despatched Twitter effectively over a dozen demand letters since Musk acquired the corporate.”

The FTC is asking for these particulars in keeping with a consent order Twitter first agreed to in 2011 to settle fees it hadn’t correctly protected consumer data, after which expanded in 2022 for utilizing individuals’s safety cellphone numbers to focus on advertisements. That settlement (PDF) additionally required Twitter to create and doc “a complete privateness and knowledge safety program” to safe customers’ data.

An FTC request to Twitter despatched on January twenty third, 2023.
Picture: Home of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary

In response to nameless sources cited within the NYT report, after Musk’s takeover, he stopped making funds to an organization, Collibra, which supplied software program utilized by the varied groups impacted to assist monitor Twitter’s compliance.

Final November, earlier than Twitter began its many rounds of layoffs, an organization lawyer despatched a Slack message saying that Musk’s actions put Twitter in danger for “billions” in fines by failing to adjust to the decree. At the moment, Musk adopted up with an e mail claiming, “I can’t emphasize sufficient that Twitter will do no matter it takes to stick to each the letter and spirit of the FTC consent decree… Something you learn on the contrary is completely false.”

The requested data included emails, memos, and Slack conversations that both associated to Elon Musk or have been despatched by him, messages in regards to the FTC, details about former Twitter deputy common counsel Jim Baker, and particulars about Twitter’s gross sales of computer systems and workplace tools.

The subcommittee’s report additionally targeted on the “Twitter Information,” a sequence of experiences by writers Musk allowed to have entry to inner messages and knowledge. The FTC requested the names of the journalists or different media members who have been supplied entry to the corporate’s Slack logs, inner paperwork, or different assets, a request the subcommittee claims is inappropriate.

In a press release to the Wall Road Journal, FTC spokesperson Douglas Farrar mentioned the requests have been a part of “conducting a rigorous investigation into Twitter’s compliance with a consent order that got here into impact lengthy earlier than Mr. Musk bought the corporate.” He mentioned it requested the names of journalists as a result of, with Twitter beneath a consent order, the FTC ought to have entry to the identical data shared with any third events.


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