Twitter asks court to terminate a FTC order governing its data practices

Twitter asked a federal court Thursday to terminate a Federal Trade Commission order that puts restrictions on its data security practices, alleging that the agency has “spiraled out of control and become tainted by bias.”

The company argued in a filing with the Northern California District Court that the FTC has been conducting a “burdensome and vexatious enforcement” investigation of the company, alleging that Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company resulted in a “sudden and drastic” change in the agency’s investigation. The order also seeks a stay that would prohibit the agency from deposing Musk, arguing that the agency’s desire to question him “derives from the same bad faith and improper conduct that has characterized its investigation to date.”

The company’s filing came just hours before FTC Chair Lina Khan is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill, where she is expected to receive a hostile reception from Republicans who have accused her of mismanaging the agency and conducting a politicized probe into Twitter.

The FTC’s investigation of Twitter predated Musk’s ownership of the company. The agency last year began probing a complaint from whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko alleging that the company buried “egregious deficiencies” in violation of an order that the company reached with the FTC.

Following a 2011 settlement, Twitter agreed to implement, monitor and adjust security safeguards to protect users. But in 2022, the Justice Department accused Twitter of asking users for their phone numbers in the name of increased security, then using the numbers for marketing. Twitter agreed to pay a $150 million fine for allegedly breaking the 2011 order, which barred the company from making misrepresentations about the security of personal data.

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