Twitter agrees to pay millions in fines after US government allegations of privacy breaches

According to the lawsuit, Twitter failed to tell its users for years that it was using their contact information to help marketers target their ad – in violation of a 2011 privacy agreement with the Federal Trade Commission.

“This practice has affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter’s main source of revenue,” FTC President Lina Khan said in a statement.

Twitter said Wednesday that the use of personal information for ads was “careless” and that the incident was first revealed in 2019.

“This issue was addressed on September 17, 2019 and today we want to reiterate the work we will continue to do to protect the privacy and security of people who use Twitter,” said Damien Kieran, head of Twitter’s privacy service. wrote in a blog post. “Maintaining data security and respect for privacy is something we take very seriously and we have worked with the FTC every step of the way. To achieve this settlement, we have paid a $ 150 million fine and are in line with the service. in business updates and program improvements to ensure that people’s personal data remains secure and that their privacy is protected. “
Wednesday’s lawsuit, filed by the FTC and the Department of Justice in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, marks the latest headache for Twitter amid a tumultuous takeover process by billionaire Elon Musk and a company which led to multiple departures of officials.

In its alleged misconduct, Twitter only told users that their phone numbers and emails were used for account security purposes, but did not mention the ad, according to a copy of the complaint seen by CNN.

“From at least May 2013 to at least September 2019, Twitter referred to its online communications users the extent to which it maintained and protected the security and confidentiality of their non-public communications,” the complaint said.

The complaint also alleges that Twitter’s conduct violates the terms of a 2011 settlement that resulted from two hacking incidents that resulted in intruders gaining administrative privileges on the platform. As part of the settlement, Twitter was banned from misleading the public about how it protects consumer data. Violations of the agreement can lead to fines.

“Twitter’s false statements violate the FTC Act and the 2011 Decree, which specifically prohibits the company from making false statements about the security of non-public consumer information,” the complaint said.

In addition to the $ 150 million fine, the new proposed agreement between Twitter and the FTC to settle Wednesday’s allegations also barred the company from taking advantage of what the FTC described as “misleading data” and allowing outside authentication methods. from phone numbers. , such as multi-factor authentication applications. The company should also inform users of its failure to disclose its alleged practice of using contact information for advertising purposes.

Wednesday’s settlement must be approved by the court.

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