Following a warning shot from the FTC on Twitter yesterday, londonbusinessblog.com has received an internal email sent by Elon Musk’s attorney Alex Spiro to all remaining employees — in which he aims to allay staff concerns by claiming they have no individual responsibility for enforcing the requirements of the FTC consent decree.
We’ve reproduced the full text of the email (sic) below – which was sent by Spiro to Twitter employees on Nov. 10 at 5:21 PM:
Elon – questions have been raised today about the consent decree in effect at the time you took over the business.
We have our first upcoming compliance audit with the ftc since the acquisition and we will handle it.
The only party to the decree is Twitter, not the individuals who work at Twitter. It is Twitter itself (not individual employees) that is a party and therefore only Twitter can hold the company liable.
I understand there are Twitter employees who don’t even work on the ftc case and said they could go to jail if we didn’t follow the rules – it just doesn’t work that way. It is the duty of the company. It is a burden on the company. It is the company’s liability.
We spoke with the FTC today about our ongoing commitments and engaged in a constructive dialogue.
We of course remain in compliance with the consent decree and the legal department is handling it and happy to answer any questions
The 2011 consent decree required Twitter to establish and maintain a program to ensure and regularly report that the new features do not further misrepresent “the extent to which it protects the security, privacy, confidentiality or integrity of maintains and protects non-public consumer information.”
In a note (first reported by The edge) posted in Twitter’s internal backlash and visible to all employees, a departing in-house attorney said individual engineers actually pose “personal, professional and legal risks,” seemingly contradicting what Spiro sent in the above email.
On Thursday, key Twitter executives, including Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, as well as Chief Information Security Officer Lea Kissner, Chief Compliance Officer Marianne Fogarty and Chief Privacy Officer Damien Kieran, all abruptly left the company. The FTC noted that they are monitoring the ongoing situation on Twitter with “deep concern” in light of the consent decree.
The FTC fined Twitter $150 million earlier this year after finding a breach of its settlement involving user data provided for security purposes and used for ad targeting.
We have reached out to the FTC for clarification on the consent decision and individual employee liability and will update as we receive more information.