Twitter was fined $ 150 million (£ 119 million) in the United States after law enforcement officials accused it of improperly using user data to sell personal ads. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice allege that Twitter violated a regulatory agreement, according to court documents. Twitter has previously said it would not share personal information with advertisers, such as phone numbers and email addresses.
The communications network company, according to federal investigators, violated these rules. Twitter was fined £ 400,000 in December 2020 for violating Europe’s GDPR data protection standards. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent U.S. government agency whose job is to enforce competition laws and protect consumers.
It accuses Twitter of violating a 2011 FTC ruling that prohibits the company from giving false information about its privacy and security policies. The bulk of Twitter’s revenue comes from its platform, which enables users, from consumers to celebrities to businesses, to send out 280-digit messages or tweets.
Twitter began searching for users’ phone numbers or email addresses in 2013 to increase account security, according to a complaint filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC.
“As stated in the complaint, Twitter collected data from users, apparently for security reasons, but then used the data to target users with advertisements,” said FTC Chairman Lina Khan.
“This policy affected over 140 million Twitter users at the same time as it increased Twitter’s main source of revenue.
“Once again, Twitter is undermining the trust of its users in its field by using its data for personal gain and profit,” Ian Reynolds, chief executive of Secure Team Computer Security, told the BBC.
“Twitter deceived its users into believing that they were safe by collecting their data under the guise of security and account protection, but ended up misusing the data to target their users with advertisements,” he said.
“This reality underscores the continued power of companies over your data and the fact that customers have to wait a long time before they can be sure they have full control of their digital footprint.
Customers must provide a phone number and email address to verify their Twitter accounts. This information can also be used to change passwords, open accounts, and enable 2-step verification.
In addition to a username and password, dual authentication enhances the security layer by sending code to either a phone number or email address to help users access Twitter.
However, the FTC claims that Twitter has been using such data to increase its advertising business until at least September 2019. It has been accused of giving advertisers access to users’ security information in exchange for advertising.
In addition to the fine, Twitter also needs:
-Stop using fraudulent phone numbers and email addresses that you received illegally.
-Users should warn against illegal access to security information.
– Users should be aware of FTC legal action
-Explain how to turn off custom ads and how to set multi-factor identification
-Offer a variety of authentication options that do not require a phone number
– Introduce a comprehensive privacy and security approach that involves notifying the FTC of any concerns within 30 days
Vanita Gupta, the US Deputy Attorney General, said: “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the privacy of sensitive consumer data.
“The $ 150 million penalty reflects the seriousness of Twitter’s allegations, and the extensive new claims that will be made as a result of the proposed settlement will help prevent similar deceptive practices that harm users’ privacy.”
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