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Twitter Agrees to Pay $150 million Fine for Invading Users’ Privacy

Twitter has consented to pay a $150 million sanction to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The payment is a settlement for an invasion of privacy charge by the US government.

The complainant maintained that Twitter had released users’ private information to help advert companies target customers.

The Breach Explained

Per a complaint on Thursday, the Social Media behemoth allegedly retrieved customers’ cell numbers and email info under false pretenses. According to the charge,  Twitter had claimed it was retrieving sensitive info to secure customers’ accounts. However, the social media outfit divulged the data to companies who used it for streamlined ads. This breach of trust reportedly went on from May 2013 till September 2019. As a matter of fact, more than 88% of Twitter’s $3.4 billion revenue in 2019 owes to paid adverts. Considering Twitter made more than $5 billion in revenue last year, US authorities are convinced Twitter’s advert model needs some scrutiny.

Moreover, the complaint states that company falsely claimed to comply with the EU-Swiss and Swiss-Us Privacy Shield Frameworks. This structure mandates businesses to secure permission before using customers’ information in any way they do not expressly approve.

Lastly, the Federal Trade Commission claims Twitter’s actions went against the FTC Act while also violating a mutual agreement made in 2011.

The government believes more than 140 million Twitter users were susceptible to the breach.

The Penalty in Full

Along with the $150 million settlement, the social platform would have to implement strict measures to prevent a recurrence of such an offense.

As part of this penalty, they would have to inform all users who joined the media hub before 2019 of the settlement. And provide the victims with other privacy protection options as well.

Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta stated that the $150 million sanctions they imposed mirrored the magnitude of the offense. She affirmed that the DOJ and the FTC took privacy matters seriously and would execute strict measures to curb violations of trust.

According to the Agreement, both the Department of Justice and FTC will routinely see to Twitter’s compliance.

The Federal Court’s Need for Consent

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Although the Federal court has not vetted the agreement, Twitter has acquiesced to the settlement. The media outfit assures that the security of its users’ data and privacy remain cogent. As such, it would swiftly pay the punitive $150 million fine. Lastly, the social media company would also cooperate with the agency in making required updates to safeguard consumers’ privacy.

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