Twitter Seeks End Of Privacy Agreement With FTC

Twitter is seeking to subpoena a prominent critic of Elon Musk, as the platform continues its legal action to terminate a consent order struck last year with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Reuters reported that Twitter has asked a court to terminate the FTC consent order related to data breaches. And in a court filing on Thursday Twitter reportedly said it planned to subpoena Senator Elizabeth Warren in connection with the fight.

It was back in May 2022 when Twitter had reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) over a privacy incident in 2019.

FTC consent order

Twitter agreed pay a $150m penalty “for deceptively using account security data for targeted advertising.”

It came after Twitter admitted in October 2020 that it had unintentionally misused user’s personal data for advertising purposes for a number of years.

It had used the email addresses and phone numbers that users had supplied to Twitter since 2013 for security purposes, namely for two-factor authentication.

In March 2023 the FTC acknowledged it was conducting a wide-ranging investigation into Twitter’s privacy practices – marking a rare public confirmation of a probe linked to alleged violations of an FTC settlement, which Twitter had first signed back in 2011.

That 2011 agreement was designed to ensure Twitter improved its protection of user data after two data breaches at the social media company. Twitter agreed back in 2011 that it would not mislead users about privacy protections.

Senator subpoena

Now Reuters is reporting that Twitter planned to subpoena Senator Elizabeth Warren in connection with the fight.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is a noted critic of Elon Musk, and has previously clashed with him previously over his tax arrangements.

Last month in June Senator Warren was one of a number of Democrat Senators who wrote to Twitter’s management and owner Elon Musk, warning that recent key departures could land it in hot water with the FTC.

The senators had warned Elon Musk that Twitter’s 2011 and 2022 agreement with the FTC was now at risk, after two high-level departures (Ella Irwin and Yoel Roth) allegedly put user’s privacy and data security at risk.

Senator Warren had urged the agency to investigate Twitter’s privacy policies in the wake of the layoffs and to consider enforcement actions against executives if appropriate.

The court filing on Thursday said the subpoena to Warren requested communications regarding Twitter or its owner Elon Musk between her office and the FTC, as well as her office and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

After Elon Musk took over Twitter last year, the company laid off 80 percent of its workforce including much of its content moderation team, and drastically cut costs, prompting questions about whether it had the resources to comply with the FTC consent order.

Last week Twitter had asked for the consent order to be scrapped, accusing the FTC of bias and overreach in filings in federal court in San Francisco.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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