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posted by janrinok on Tuesday February 27, @03:31PM   Printer-friendly

Twitter security staff kept firm in compliance by disobeying Musk, FTC says:

Twitter employees prevented Elon Musk from violating the company's privacy settlement with the US government, according to Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.

After Musk bought Twitter in late 2022, he gave Bari Weiss and other journalists access to company documents in the so-called "Twitter Files" incident. The access given to outside individuals raised concerns that Twitter (which is currently named X) violated a 2022 settlement with the FTC, which has requirements designed to prevent repeats of previous security failures.

Some of Twitter's top privacy and security executives also resigned shortly after Musk's purchase, citing concerns that Musk's rapid changes could cause violations of the settlement.

FTC staff deposed former Twitter employees and "learned that the access provided to the third-party individuals turned out to be more limited than the individuals' tweets and other public reporting had indicated," Khan wrote in a letter sent today to US Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). Khan's letter said the access was limited because employees refused to comply with Musk's demands:

The deposition testimony revealed that in early December 2022, Elon Musk had reportedly directed staff to grant an outside third-party individual "full access to everything at Twitter... No limits at all." Consistent with Musk's direction, the individual was initially assigned a company laptop and internal account, with the intent that the third-party individual be given "elevated privileges" beyond what an average company employee might have.

However, based on a concern that such an arrangement would risk exposing nonpublic user information in potential violation of the FTC's Order, longtime information security employees at Twitter intervened and implemented safeguards to mitigate the risks. Ultimately the third-party individuals did not receive direct access to Twitter's systems, but instead worked with other company employees who accessed the systems on the individuals' behalf.

Jordan is chair of the House Judiciary Committee and has criticized the investigation, claiming that "the FTC harassed Twitter in the wake of Mr. Musk's acquisition." Khan's letter to Jordan today argues that the FTC investigation was justified.

"The FTC's investigation confirmed that staff was right to be concerned, given that Twitter's new CEO had directed employees to take actions that would have violated the FTC's Order," Khan wrote. "Once staff learned that the FTC's Order had worked to ensure that Twitter employees took appropriate measures to protect consumers' private information, compliance staff made no further inquiries to Twitter or anyone else concerning this issue."

Khan also wrote that deep staff cuts following the Musk acquisition, and resignations of Twitter's top privacy and compliance officials, meant that "there was no one left at the company responsible for interpreting and modifying data policies and practices to ensure Twitter was complying with the FTC's Order to safeguard Americans' personal data." The letter continued:

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday March 01, @04:09AM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday March 01, @04:09AM (#1346899) Journal

    Assuming it's my own office or residence, the cop can ask, and I can either refuse or comply as I choose. Cops are also allowed to ask to search the premises themselves, and if you let them in, that's a legal search. The way you assert your Fourth Amendment rights are to not do the search yourself, nor let them in to do the search.

    How about they ask the janitor or landlord to nose through the place without a search warrant? Both have legal reason to be there. I see a fundamental error here, assuming that police will only ask you directly to search your property. When they ask a secondary party that has access to part of your property or files, then that allows them to bypass the legal requirement for a warrant. And who knows what they offered as part of the deal.

    I find it remarkable that you can't tell any difference between an official liaison of the federal government working with Twitter (and possibly other major social media sites) to suppress legal speech, a clear violation of the First Amendment

    All the First Amendment guarantees is that you won't be arrested for saying or writing things that the government doesn't like. It does not and never has granted you the legal right to use anybody else's private property to spread your message, because the courts have generally seen legally required speech as at least as big of an imposition on your freedom as legally prohibited speech. Nor has it ever guaranteed you an audience of a particular size or location.

    No, it's far more broad than that - arresting someone is not the only way one's speech can be abridged per definition of the amendment, requiring a speech forum to shut down the speech by law would be another. And the Supreme Court has extended it further to any government restriction of speech, including state and local levels of government not merely by federal legislation. Here, the Twitter censorship is at the behest of the government liaison. That demonstrates that it's actually government censorship.

    Since Twitter is private property owned by Twitter, that means they get to decide what's posted on it. And "the government asked me not to allow this post" is a reason they are allowed to decide not to show a post. You don't like that? Fine. Your option is to publish it on Truth Social instead, or on your own website.

    It remains illegal for the government to "ask" that. Keep in mind that they can provide stick and carrot to enforce that "ask". A glaring example is favorable treatment concerning the settlement discussed in the story. The federal government has some leeway in how it decided Twitter's compliance with the settlement and how much scrutiny the company should undergo. An unmentioned legal alternative here is for government to never ask a social media company to deplatform someone for speech.