Twitter wants a federal court to terminate a $150 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission that was struck last year after Lina Khan’s agency accused the tech giant of violating user privacy.
Khan appeared before Congress on Thursday when she was grilled about the FTC’s probe of Twitter.
Twitter has claimed that it had been subjected to a “burdensome and vexatious enforcement investigation” by the FTC, which under Khan has gained a reputation for zealous pursuit of antitrust cases.
Republican lawmakers accused Khan of pursuing an anti-business agenda against Elon Musk’s social media site.
According to court filings submitted by attorneys for Twitter, a third-party auditor from the accounting firm Ernst & Young testified that he felt “as if the FTC was trying to influence the outcome of the engagement before it had started.”
“The Court should not permit the FTC to continue invoking judicial power to prosecute an investigation so infected by bias that it has lost any plausible connection to lawful purpose,” Twitter wrote in its filing with San Francisco federal court.
Twitter accused the FTC in court documents of demanding that the company produce more than 22,000 documents.
The company also wants the court to grant Twitter a stay of deposition of Musk.
Musk, Twitter argues, wasn’t a party to the original consent decree and thus shouldn’t be required to give a deposition.
Twitter told the court that it attempted on several occasions to arrange a meeting between Musk and Khan.
Khan is reported to have replied that she would consider a meeting only after Twitter complied with FTC requests.
GOP members have accused Khan and Democrats of targeting Musk over his political views, particularly in the wake of the tech mogul’s free-wheeling content moderation policies following his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter.
Khan’s agency has taken aim at Twitter over alleged violations of a decade-old consent decree in which the tech firm pledged to safeguard user data.
Twitter reached a consent decree with the FTC in 2011, which was expanded in 2022, that required the social media platform to conduct regular security audits and to keep the agency informed about how it handles sensitive data.
“Our focus is on protecting people’s privacy and security,” Khan said at Thursday’s hearing.
“Twitter has sensitive data on 150 million Americans, including private messages…we are doing everything to make sure Twitter is complying with the order.”
The FTC declined to comment.
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