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Twitter penalised USD150M over data privacy breach; asked to put in new safeguards

It has been alleged that Twitter violated a 2011 FTC order by deceiving users about how well it maintained and protected the privacy and security of their nonpublic contact information.

Vani Mehrotra Edited by: Vani Mehrotra @vani_mehrotra New Delhi Published on: May 26, 2022 6:50 IST
Twitter penalty news
Image Source : AP

Twitter app icon on a mobile phone in Philadelphia

Highlights

  • Twitter had been asking for users' phone number and email address for account security purposes
  • However, several companies have been sending targeted online ads to users on the platform
  • Twitter also falsely claimed it complied with US privacy agreements with the EU and Switzerland

Twitter has been fined a $150 million penalty following allegations that the social media platform failed to protect the privacy of users' data over a six-year span. Twitter will also have to put in new safeguards to settle the federal regulators' allegations. 

The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission announced the settlement with Twitter on Wednesday. 

The regulators allege Twitter violated a 2011 FTC order by deceiving users about how well it maintained and protected the privacy and security of their nonpublic contact information.

Data privacy allegations against Twitter

From May 2013 to September 2019, Twitter told users that it was collecting their phone numbers and email addresses for purposes of account security, however, it failed to disclose that it also would use the information to enable companies to send targeted online ads to users on the platform, the government alleged.

The regulators also alleged, in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday, that Twitter falsely claimed that it complied with US privacy agreements with the European Union and Switzerland, which prohibit companies from processing user information in ways that are at odds with purposes authorized by users.

The $150 million penalty and the required new compliance measures under the settlement must be approved by a federal court in California.

The FTC's 2011 order had alleged serious lapses in Twitter's data security that allowed hackers to gain unauthorized administrative control of Twitter, including access to nonpublic user information. 

(With inputs from AP)

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