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Twitter To Pay $150 Mn In Settlements For Data Breach, Non-compliance With Privacy Accords

Microblogging website Twitter will pay a US$150 Mn penalty and put in new safegaurds to settle federal regulators’ allegations of data breach.


Image: AP

In a key development, Microblogging major Twitter will pay USD 150 Mn penalty and put in new safeguards to settle federal regulators’ allegations that the social media company gave advertisers improper access to the personal information of users. In a complaint filed on Wednesday, regulating agencies stated that the social media platform collected users’ phone numbers and email addresses for the purposes of account security between May 2013 and September 2019. However, it failed to disclose to the users that their data would be used to enable companies to send targeted ads to users, according to agencies.

Both the Federal agencies - the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission also alleged that Twitter falsely claimed that 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. "As the complaint notes, Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads," said FTC Chair Lina M. Khan. “This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue," she added.

“Consumers who share their private information have a right to know if that information is being used to help advertisers target customers,” US Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds for the Northern District of California said. “Social media companies that are not honest with consumers about how their personal information is being used will be held accountable.”

Settlement requires disclosure on privacy

The settlement, which was announced on Wednesday, would resolve allegations that Twitter violated the FTC act and 2011 FTC order by deceiving users about how well it maintained and protected the privacy and security of their non-public confirmation. As per DOJ, the settlement also will require Twitter to notify all American customers who joined Twitter before Sept. 17, 2019, about the settlement and to provide users with options for protecting their privacy and security. Under the settlement terms, the Department of Justice and FTC will each have responsibility for monitoring and enforcing Twitter’s compliance. Notably, the protection of user information has gained momentum following the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. 

(Image: AP) 

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