Engadget:

Court filings have revealed new details about the FTC’s investigation into Elon Musk over his handling of privacy and security issues at X. In newly public , the Department of Justice says Musk fostered a “chaotic environment” at Twitter, now known as X, that prevented company officials from complying with their obligations to the FTC.

The stems from a 2022 between the FTC and Twitter over the company’s use of deceptive ad targeting under the leadership of Jack Dorsey. Prior to Musk’s takeover, the company paid a $150 million fine and signed on to an agreement to implement specific privacy and security measures. It was those additional data protection measures that apparently fell by the wayside once Musk took control, triggering new scrutiny from the regulator.

In March, the FTC began investigating the rushed rollout of Twitter Blue, which reportedly launched without the privacy and security review required under the FTC order, as well as Musk’s handling of the so-called “Twitter Files.”

In the latest court documents, the Department of Justice details new information provided by a number of former top . According to the DoJ, Twitter’s former chief privacy officer Damien Kieran said Twitter Blue launched so quickly a “security and privacy review was not conducted in accordance with the company’s process for software development.”

It also details employee concerns over Musk’s attempts to grant an outside journalist unfettered access to the company’s internal systems. (The filing notes that “longtime information security employees intervened” and the reporter was ultimately given access to files and systems via an intermediary.)

The government also raises concerns over Musk’s rearranging of company servers between data centers. The company’s policy required that servers be wiped prior to being moved, but that didn’t happen, according to former Twitter employees. The government also notes that Musk’s rapid-fire layoffs resulted in deep cuts among the Twitter staff who could have helped the company stay in compliance with the FTC.

X didn’t respond to a request for comment. Musk has previously the investigation as the “weaponization of a government agency for political purposes.”

Ultimately, the owner of X may end up having to answer to the FTC directly on these issues. The regulator argues that Musk should be deposed, though lawyers for X have sought to prevent the deposition. “Evidence the FTC uncovered during its investigation reveals that Musk has been deeply involved in the ‘fundamental transformation’ of X Corp.,” the government wrote. “Musk exercised granular control of X Corp., at times directing employees in a manner that may have jeopardized data privacy and security.”


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MuskWire TLDR:

New court filings have provided further insight into the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation into Elon Musk’s handling of privacy and security issues at a company referred to as “X.” The Department of Justice, in the newly public court documents, accuses Musk of creating a “chaotic environment” at Twitter, which is now known as X, that hindered the company’s compliance with its obligations to the FTC. The investigation stems from a 2022 settlement between the FTC and Twitter over deceptive ad targeting practices under Jack Dorsey’s leadership. Prior to Musk taking control, Twitter paid a $150 million fine and agreed to implement specific privacy and security measures. However, these additional measures were allegedly neglected once Musk assumed control, leading to increased scrutiny from the regulator. The FTC began investigating the rushed rollout of Twitter Blue, which reportedly launched without the required privacy and security review, as well as Musk’s handling of the “Twitter Files.” Former Twitter executives revealed concerns about the quick launch of Twitter Blue without following the company’s software development process for security and privacy reviews. The court documents also highlight employee worries about Musk’s attempts to grant unrestricted access to an outside journalist to the company’s internal systems. Additionally, the government raises concerns about Musk’s rearrangement of company servers between data centers, which allegedly violated the company’s policy to wipe servers before moving them. Musk’s rapid layoffs are also noted to have resulted in significant staff reductions, potentially affecting the company’s ability to comply with FTC regulations. The court filings indicate that Musk may have to answer directly to the FTC, with the regulator arguing that he should be deposed. However, X’s lawyers have sought to prevent the deposition. The government asserts that evidence from the FTC’s investigation reveals Musk’s deep involvement in the “fundamental transformation” of X Corp., exercising detailed control over employees that may have compromised data privacy and security. X has not responded to a request for comment, while Musk has previously described the investigation as the “weaponization of a government agency for political purposes.”