Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are calling out the FTC over what appears to be an attempt to bully an independent auditor into condemning Twitter for privacy violations.
The allegation emerged in a motion filed by X Corp, the holding company established by Elon Musk to manage Twitter, asking the U.S. district court for the northern district of California to terminate a privacy settlement Twitter made with the FTC, which allows the latter to monitor and enforce Twitter’s compliance.
Although the settlement was made before Twitter’s change in ownership, X Corp’s filing alleges that the FTC became increasingly aggressive after the takeover by Musk, a self-declared Republican and “free speech absolutist.”
According to the filing, the FTC even sought to pressure a supposedly independent auditor, Ernst & Young, into condemning Twitter.
From the filing:
Recent sworn testimony details how the FTC, through a series of interactions with EY immediately after Elon Musk acquired Twitter, attempted to co-opt EY’s independent assessment in order to generate evidence of “deficiencies in Twitter’s privacy and information security program.” These efforts included dictating to EY “very specific types of procedures that they expected” EY to perform and “[conveying] expectations … about what th[e] results should be before [EY] had even begun any procedures.” 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, “[t]he FTC [would] take exception to [EY’s] withdrawal and create ‘other’ challenges for EY over time.”
In a tweet, X Corp owner Musk said the FTC’s actions constituted “insanely illegal overreach.”
Insanely illegal overreach by FTC
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 13, 2023
Since Musk’s takeover of the company, Twitter has come under increased pressure from governments that are angry at the company’s new emphasis on free speech. Last month, the government of Australia threatened Musk with massive fines if his platform did not remove “hate speech” within 28 days.
The EU, meanwhile, is simultaneously pressuring Twitter over its alleged failure to remove “hate speech,” while also threatening the platform with sanctions for suspending mainstream legacy media journalists who breach its terms of service.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election. Follow him on Twitter @AllumBokhari.