U.S. FINES TWITTER $150 MILLION DOLLARS OVER PRIVACY BREACH
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Twitter has been accused by the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice in US of capturing phone numbers or email addresses provided to tighten privacy and then allowing marketers to profit from the information.
However, Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million to settle allegations that the platform gave advertisers some useful information that was supposed to be employed to strengthen account security.
In a statement, commission chair Lina Khan stated, “Twitter gathered data from users under the guise of harnessing it for security purposes, but subsequently ended up utilizing the data to target users with adverts.”
The personal data that users give to tech companies, and how that data is used, has been a source of contention between regulators and strong companies such as Facebook parent Meta, Twitter, and others.
Conflicts over privacy have resulted in periodic lawsuits or settlements, but opponents have long demanded a comprehensive update of US national standards for how personal data is handled online.
According to regulators, more than 140 million Twitter users provided phone numbers or email addresses to the San Francisco-based site to help protect accounts with two-factor authentication over a five-year period ending in 2019.
The security method entails supplementing passwords with one-time codes delivered by text or email.
According to the FTC, which partnered with federal prosecutors to launch a lawsuit against Twitter, the company allowed marketers to utilize personal information to target ads without informing users.
In a statement, US Attorney Stephanie Hinds stated, “Consumers who share their private information have a right to know if that information is being utilized to assist advertisers target customers.”
In addition to paying $150 million, Twitter will implement new procedures, including having its privacy program examined on a regular basis by an independent assessor, according to the settlement agreement.
In a blog post, Twitter’s chief privacy officer Damien Kieran wrote, “Keeping data secure and respecting privacy is something we take incredibly seriously, and we have worked with the FTC every step of the way.”
“We’ve worked together with the agency on operational changes and program enhancements to guarantee that people’s personal data is secure and their privacy is protected,” he said, stressing that the penalty has already been paid.
The settlement, which must be authorized by a judge, also compels Twitter to notify all users who joined Twitter before late 2019 about the agreement and their privacy alternatives.