Twitter is going to pay $150 million to settle a federal privacy lawsuit over allegations of improperly collecting user data between 2014 and 2019.
Meanwhile, Meta ramped up its feud with Apple through comments to a federal agency reviewing competition in the mobile app market.
This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley.
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Twitter to pay $150M to settle privacy suit
Twitter is set to pay $150 million to settle a privacy lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Justice Department.
The settlement, made public Wednesday, concerns allegations that the platform improperly collected user data between 2014 and 2019. The settlement requires a court approval before being finalized.
According to the complaint, Twitter asked users for phone numbers and email addresses to secure their accounts and then let advertisers use that information to target ads.
The platform misrepresented what the information was being collected to do, per the complaint, allegedly violating a previous settlement from 2011 and the FTC Act.
“As the complaint notes, Twitter obtained data from users on the pretext of harnessing it for security purposes but then ended up also using the data to target users with ads,” FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan said in a statement. “This practice affected more than 140 million Twitter users, while boosting Twitter’s primary source of revenue.”
Meta slams Apple
Meta’s stance escalates the feud between the two industry heavyweights and puts Facebook’s parent company in opposition to the industry groups trying to defend the competitiveness of the app market as the Biden administration cracks down on tech giants’ power.
Piling on: In 19 pages of comments, Meta almost entirely focuses on criticizing Apple.
The multibillion-dollar company, which is itself the target of a key federal antitrust lawsuit, paints a picture of Apple as a behemoth that is constraining Meta’s ability to expand.
The comments were made to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is conducting a report on competition in the mobile app ecosystem as part of the Department of Commerce’s work to review the market as directed under a sweeping executive order on competition from President Biden.
Apple’s take: In a 15-page comment submitted for the NTIA report, Apple defended its app store as a “pro-consumer and pro-developer economic engine for app developers.”
Part of Apple’s defense is focused around security and privacy features it provides for consumers. The tech giant used a similar defense in a lawsuit against Epic Games, the developer behind Fortnite, and in hearings with lawmakers looking to add further regulations to how dominant app stores operate.
Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is stepping down from the company’s board effective today, a move that was expected and comes amid Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s multibillion-dollar bid to purchase the platform.
“As we shared back in November, Jack would be leaving the Board when ‘his term expires at the 2022 meeting of stockholders,’” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill.
The company held its annual stakeholder meeting on Wednesday.
The co-founder’s departure comes a month after Twitter announced an initial deal to sell itself to the world’s wealthiest man for some $44 billion.
CYBERATTACK ATTRIBUTION IS KEY
As Russian cyber threats continue to evolve amid the war in Ukraine, cyber experts are urging NATO to take authoritative steps to combat state-sponsored hackers, including attributing the actors behind the attacks.
Merle Maigre, a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said that NATO should “deny covertness by attribution” and hold malicious cyber actors accountable for their criminal actions.
“I think NATO should persuade its opponents that they cannot be clandestine in the cyber operations,” Maigre said.
“Attribution is a good way to make clear to malicious actors that their actions will be seen and will be addressed,” she added.
BITS AND PIECES
An op-ed to chew on: US infrastructure is nowhere near ready for Biden’s electric vehicle timeline
Notable links from around the web:
A Face Search Engine Anyone Can Use Is Alarmingly Accurate (The New York Times / Kashmir Hill)
Tech Industry Groups Are Watering Down Attempts at Privacy Regulation, One State at a Time (The Markup / Todd Feathers and Alfred Ng)
In private, vulnerable Senate Dems back off tech bill (Adam Cancryn and Emily Birnbaum)
One last thing: Blinken to unveil ‘China House’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday will announce the launching of a “China House” in the State Department, a team of diplomats across the agency who will coordinate U.S. policy to confront China on its global ambitions.
Blinken will make the announcement on U.S. strategy during a wide-ranging speech at George Washington University on the Biden administration’s approach toward relations with Beijing.
The China House will be a department-wide integrated team that will coordinate and implement the administration’s policy across issues and regions, according to an excerpt of Blinken’s remarks provided by the State Department.
Author: Rebecca Klar