March 30, 2023

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The Federal Trade Commission is stepping up its investigation of Twitter’s privacy practices

In November, three senior executives responsible for overseeing security, privacy, and compliance resigned from Twitter, one day before Twitter was due to submit a response to the FTC’s request letter. The FTC, in an effort led by Rina Kim, a longtime staff attorney who was involved in the agency’s previous investigation of Facebook’s privacy issues, spoke with at least two of those executives, Damien Kieran and Leah Kessner, three people familiar with the matter said.

Mr. Musk’s mass layoffs have shaken up the company’s legal department, which has drawn support and lawyers from Mr. Musk’s other companies including electric car maker Tesla and rocket maker SpaceX. Three current and former employees said this led to confusing guidance and caused previously junior employees to take on new responsibilities for which they were not qualified.

Over the past several months, Twitter has asked the agency for more time to answer its questions about staffing and resources, saying its corporate structure and hiring of senior leaders is still in flux. The FTC has the power to fine Twitter again, or punish executives with criminal penalties if they mislead investigators about the state of the company’s privacy practices.

In addition to investigating Mr. Musk’s takeover, the agency is also examining allegations raised by his former security director, Peter Zatko, who said in a whistleblower complaint that Twitter, under its previous administration, made false and misleading statements about him. security practices.

FTC Chair Lena Khan said during a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in November that she was “deeply troubled” by Mr. Zatko’s allegations, particularly his assertion that Twitter had misled the FTC about its compliance practices.

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“There was definitely a problem with companies treating FTC requests as suggestions,” Ms. Khan said. “We have a program in place to really strengthen this.”

Mr Musk’s Twitter also faces potential challenges abroad. In November, said Thierry Breton, EU Internal Market Commissioner in the current situation that the company has “huge work ahead” to become compliant with the Block’s Digital Services Act, a wide-ranging set of laws set to take effect in 2024 that tackle misinformation, targeted advertising, and content modification on social media platforms.