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Elon Musk Criticizes FTC Overreach On Twitter

 |  July 13, 2023

The Federal Trade Commission and Elon Musk’s Twitter are squaring off in court after Twitter filed a motion to terminate an FTC consent decree over concerns of bias and misconduct. On Thursday, the Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan was subjected to a “hostile reception” by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, who argued that she was pursuing an anti-business agenda.

Twitter’s legal filing Thursday said the FTC has engaged in biased and unlawful conduct against the tech giant since Musk acquired the company in October 2022. The case, which goes back to 2011, originally alleges serious data security lapses. Twitter agreed to a consent order to implement improved security measures and monitor them going forward, reported The Washington Post. 

Twitter wants to end the consent decree, claiming the “FTC has issued 16 demand letters to X Corp. since Musk’s takeover of Twitter, in comparison to approximately 28 demand letters it issued in the decade-plus period it oversaw Twitter’s compliance with the prior consent order.”

The filing also asks the court to block an FTC deposition of Musk. It says, “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.”

Related: FTC Subpoenaed By US House Panel Over Twitter Probe

Elon Musk has taken to Twitter to criticize what he perceives as FTC overreach and the weaponization of government agencies for censorship and political purposes. Musk called Khan’s FTC leadership a “disaster.”

Republicans have tried to portray Khan as pursuing an anti-business agenda disconnected from the law. However, Democrats have stood by Khan and her record of aggressive antitrust enforcement, standing up for consumers. Reps on both sides of the aisle agreed that consumer privacy should be a top priority for the agency.

Khan points to her track record at the agency as evidence in her support. She has succeeded in blocking anticompetitive deals and backing the agency’s efforts to make it easier for consumers to cancel online subscriptions.

She believes the investigation into Twitter is more about protecting an individual than party politics. She said, “Twitter has been in trouble for failing to adequately protect the privacy of its users for more than a decade… Protecting user privacy is not political.”

Twitter has responded to FTC demands and produced more than 22,000 documents to date. A hearing on the motions is currently scheduled for Aug. 17, but the filing states that a hearing may occur at a later date. It remains to be seen how the motion will play out, but it’s clear this battle between the FTC and Twitter won’t be over anytime soon.