Samuel Levine, director of the consumer protection bureau at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), warned companies such as Twitter that the government would not hesitate to go to court over violations of agreements with the FTC, in an interview with Axios Thursday.
Twitter’s privacy policies must comply with a 2010 consent decree issued by the FTC, mandating that users be made aware of all the ways in which their data is used by the company, according to Axios. While Levine did not specifically comment on the FTC’s relationship with Twitter he noted that companies typically violated privacy rules when their business models relied on harvesting data in order to optimize advertisements.
Twitter CEO Elon Musk argued that the company ought to collaborate with advertisers to target users with ads that were so focused they could be considered “content” that users might engage in an Oct. 27 tweet laying out the social media platform’s advertising stance, a policy which could violate the platform’s consent decree.
“We are not afraid to take companies to court,” Levine said to Axios. “We try to focus on cases where we can have the most impact … we want to send a message to other companies in the marketplace.”
The FTC fined Twitter $150 million in May for violating its consent decree by failing to inform users what their personal data was being used for, and then using that data for commercial purposes, according to the FTC. The consent decree also mandates that Twitter designate at least one employee to manage information security and manage risks to users, but it is not clear following the wave of mass layoffs at the company that Twitter still had an employee in charge of ensuring compliance, according to Axios.
Twitter is several weeks late on rent at both its San Francisco headquarters and offices around the world and refused to pay a nearly $200,000 bill for private flights made the week following Musk’s acquisition, according to The New York Times.
The FTC declined to comment for this story. Twitter did not immediately respond to a Daily Caller News Foundation request for comment.
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