Following a warning shot from the FTC to Twitter yesterday, TechCrunch obtained an internal email sent by Elon Musk’s attorney, Alex Spiro, to all remaining employees, in which he seeks to allay employee concerns by stating that he does not they have individual responsibility for upholding the requirements of the FTC consent decree.
We have reproduced the full text of the email (sic) below, which was sent by Spiro to Twitter staff at 5:21 pm on November 10:
Elon: Questions were raised today about the consent decree in place at the time you took over the company.
We have our first compliance check with the FTC since we took over and we will handle it.
The only part of the decree is Twitter, not the people who work at Twitter. Twitter itself (not individual employees) is a party, and therefore only Twitter, the company, could be liable.
I understand there have been employees on Twitter who don’t even work on the FTC issue and say they could go to jail if we didn’t comply; that’s just not how this works. It is the obligation of the company. It is the company’a burden. It is the responsibility of the company.
We spoke with the FTC today about our ongoing obligations and have an ongoing constructive dialogue.
Of course, we will comply with the consent decree and the legal department is handling it and will be happy to answer any questions.
The 2011 consent decree required Twitter to establish and maintain a program to ensure and regularly report that its new features do not further misrepresent “the extent to which it maintains and protects the security, privacy, confidentiality, or integrity of any nonpublic consumer information.” “.
In a note (first reported by The Verge) posted on internal Twitter slack and visible to all employees, an outgoing in-house attorney said that individual engineers do in fact create “personal, professional and legal risks,” apparently in contradiction to what Spiro sent. in the above email.
On Thursday, key Twitter executives, including the company’s chief trust and security officer, Yoel Roth, as well as its chief information security officer, Lea Kissner, chief compliance officer, Marianne Fogarty, and chief privacy officer, Damien Kieran, abruptly left the company. The FTC noted that they are watching with “deep concern” the current situation at Twitter in light of the consent decree.
The FTC fined Twitter $150 million earlier this year after finding a breach of the agreement related to user data provided for security purposes being used for ad targeting.
We’ve reached out to the FTC for clarification on the consent decree and individual employee responsibility and will update you if we receive more information.