Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Tuesday that her agency had “no basis” to investigate the finances of Twitter following calls from Democrats, including President Joe Biden, to investigate the company or owner Elon Musk over its connections with the Saudi Arabian royal family.
Yellen’s comments come less than a week after Biden told reporters at a Nov. 9 press conference that Musk’s connection to the Saudis, who gained a roughly 4% stake in Twitter after investing roughly $1.9 billion into the mogul’s $44 billion acquisition of the platform, was “worth being looked at.” Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut previously wrote to Yellen, in her capacity as the chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), requesting that CFIUS investigate the company due to “national security concerns” over potential Saudi access to Twitter users’ data in an Oct. 31 letter.
“Well, I’m not sure precisely what [the president] had in mind, but we are — we have really no basis — to the best of my knowledge — to examine his finances of his company. I’m not aware of concerns that would cause us to [investigate],” said Yellen to CBS News. Treasury officials have reportedly performed a routine review of the deal to determine if they had grounds for further investigation.
While Yellen has seemingly shot down a CFIUS investigation for now, Democrats from both the House and the Senate, including Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, have called attention to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority to investigate Twitter’s use of user data, according to Politico.
“Musk should be held personally liable,” for alleged violations of user privacy that occur under his control of the company, Schakowsky told Politico.
“Every day at that company brings increasing chaos that threatens users’ wellbeing,” Markey told Politico. “The FTC has an obligation to make sure Twitter and its leadership are abiding by their responsibilities under the law and agreements with regulators.”
A rash of high-level executives, including Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner and Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran, left Twitter amid concerns that Musk was willing to violate FTC rules and had circumvented the company’s privacy procedures when launching the new Twitter Blue subscription, according to The Verge.
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