By Emma Roth
Elon Musk’s $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter hasn’t escaped government scrutiny just yet. According to a report from Bloomberg, the US government is looking into whether Musk’s foreign investment partners have access to users’ private data on the platform.
Sources close to the situation told Bloomberg that the government’s asking for more details about Musk’s private agreements with the international investors who hold stakes in the company, which include Saudi Arabia’s Prince Al Waleed bin Talal Al Saud and the Qatar Investment Authority. Musk’s business dealings in both Ukraine and China have also drawn concern.
Earlier this week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who is also the head of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS), said that she sees “no basis” to investigate Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. However, President Joe Biden expressed that Musk’s “relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” and Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) also called for CFIUS to look into Saudi Arabia’s stake in Twitter. “I don’t understand this decision,” Murphy said in response to Yellen’s statement. “CFIUS is designed to review transactions like this.”
Separately, a number of lawmakers, including Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), are also pushing for the Federal Trade Commission to take action against Twitter.
In a letter to FTC chairwoman Lina Khan, the senators ask the agency to investigate whether the Musk-owned Twitter has violated consumer protection laws, stating Musk “has taken alarming steps that have undermined the integrity and safety of the platform.” The letter makes references to Musk’s Twitter Blue with verification subscription as, which Twitter pulled after it became rife with fake verified accounts. Musk plans on reinstating Blue with verification later this month.
Twitter is also on the hook to comply with the conditions of the settlement it reached with the FTC earlier this year over claims it used personal information to sell targeted ads. As reported by The Verge’s Alex Heath, Twitter’s lawyer has already warned the company could face billions in fines if it doesn’t follow the agency’s consent order.
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By Emma Roth