Twitter agrees to pay 150 million fine – was that enough?



This week, the social media platform Twitter agreed to pay a 150 million fine after the U.S. government sued the company, alleging that it had misled customers about how it protects their personal data. According to a federal lawsuit, the micro-blog service failed to tell its users for years that it used their contact information to help marketers target their ads. This was in violation of the 2011 confidentiality settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

“This practice has affected more than 140 million Twitter users, increasing Twitter’s primary source of revenue,” FTC Chair Lina Khan said in a statement.

The FTC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have claimed that Twitter told its users that it was collecting their telephone numbers and email addresses for account-security purposes, but failed to disclose that it would use the information to help companies send targeted ads. To consumers.

“The judiciary is committed to protecting the privacy of sensitive consumer data,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta in a statement on Wednesday. “The $ 150 million fine reflects the seriousness of the allegations against Twitter, and the significant new compliance measures imposed as a result of today’s proposed settlement will help prevent further misleading tactics that threaten users’ privacy.”

Twitter has agreed to settle government allegations by paying 150 million in fines. It has agreed to implement significant new compliance measures to ensure that the platform improves its data privacy practices.

Among these measures, Twitter must develop and maintain a comprehensive privacy and information-security program, conduct a privacy review with a written report and conduct regular checks before implementing any new product or service that collects users’ personal information. Protecting the Privacy of Information, explained DoJ.

In addition, Twitter is required to conduct regular evaluations of its data privacy program from an independent evaluator, provide an annual certificate of consent from a senior official, report any data privacy incidents that affect 250 or more users, and numerous other reports. Must be complied with. And the need to keep records. The settlement will further require the social media platform to inform all US customers who joined Twitter before September 17, 2019, about their disposal and provide users with options for their privacy and protection. Under the terms of the settlement, the DoJ and the FTC will each be responsible for monitoring and enforcing Twitter’s consent.

The fine is a warning to other social media platforms, explained Paul Bishop, Comparitech’s Internet privacy lawyer.

“In 2019, Twitter has admitted to using the phone numbers of submitted users to enable two-step verification for advertising purposes. This violates both EU and US law. Now we are finally seeing the results,” Bishop said in an email.

“The most important thing to remember about the FTC’s 150 million fine is that it is based on a 2011 commission ruling and order,” added Charles King, a technology analyst at Pand-IT.

“Twitter broke that promise in 2013 by promising not to exploit users ‘personal information commercially, then selling users’ personal email addresses and phone numbers to advertisers,” King noted. “In other words, the FTC found that Twitter had abused its position with users / consumers and warned the company that such behavior would result in large fines in the future. Twitter said it understood and agreed, then bought a rope and ladder and found one. Gone. A tree with a strong branch. “

The wheel of justice was apparently moving too slowly.

“What’s interesting is that despite the confession, it took almost three years for the FTC and the DoJ to reach a settlement, no criminal charges have been filed, and no court case has been set,” Bishop added. “I want to see more accountability for billion-dollar corporations.”


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