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Twitter asked a court on Thursday to stop a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) order concerning the social media platform’s privacy and security practices, citing allegations that an independent auditor felt pressured by the federal agency to dig up “negative'” information.
X Corp., the parent company of Twitter, argued in a filing on Thursday that the FTC’s oversight of its user data safeguards, dating back to a 2011 consent order which was updated in mid-2022 along with a $150 million fine over the platform’s alleged misuse of data to target advertising, has “spiraled out of control and become tainted by bias.”
The motion filed to a federal court in California, which claims the FTC has “pummeled X Corp. with burdensome demand letters and requests for depositions” after Twitter CEO Elon Musk took over the platform in October 2022 and instituted mass layoffs, requests an end to the order and a stay on a July 23 deposition of Musk. The filing also says that at a minimum the FTC should halt enforcement of the consent order until FTC provides “substantive responses to X Corp.’s requests for information to establish the scope and depth of the FTC’s bias and improper interference” in the matter.
“Since Mr. Musk acquired Twitter, the FTC has issued 16 demand letters to X Corp., a rate of approximately one letter every other week, a stark contrast to the approximately 28 demand letters the FTC issued in the decade-plus period it oversaw Twitter’s compliance with the prior consent order,” the filing says. “X Corp. has responded to this avalanche of demands as best it can, responding promptly to FTC inquiries and producing more than 22,000 documents to date. The FTC’s overreach has now culminated in a demand to depose Mr. Musk, who is not, and never has been, a party to the Consent Order.”
Musk made “several requests” to meet with FTC Chair Lina Khan for a meeting to get a better understanding of the agency’s concerns, but Khan only agreed to consider one if Twitter complied with all of the FTC’s requests, the filing says.
Part of what is highlighted in the filing is the FTC’s alleged coercion of Ernst & Young (EY), an accounting firm picked to be an independent assessor of the social media company’s security measures, to gather evidence of deficiencies after Musk’s takeover. The filing says, highlighting deposition testimony from EY employee David Roque, the FTC “was so ‘adamant’ with EY, conveying that ‘this is absolutely what you will do and this is going to occur, and you’ll produce a report at the end of the day’ that would be negative about Twitter, that senior EY leaders feared that, if EY resigned as the independent assessor,” the FTC would “take exception” and develop “challenges” for the law firm over time.
The Daily Wire reached out to the FTC and Ernst & Young seeking comment on the filing. In response, the FTC decline to comment. An EY spokesperson said, “We are not able to comment on active litigation regarding a former engagement.”
“Our focus is on protecting people’s privacy and security,” Khan testified. “Twitter has sensitive data on 150 million Americans, including private messages. We need to make sure, especially given its history going all the way back to 2010. We are doing everything to make sure Twitter is complying with the order.”
Though Khan said she was not familiar with the EY allegations in the filing and would get back to the committee, she insisted, “As a general matter, we want to make sure that the assessors and auditors that are responsible for overseeing compliance are doing their job.”
The X Corp. filing said a hearing date is set for August 17.
“FTC overreach has gone absurdly far beyond the legal mandate granted by Congress,” Musk said in a tweet. “Weaponization of government agencies for censorship & political machinations needs to stop.”