[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 125 (Wednesday, June 30, 2010)]
[Pages 37806-37808]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-15827]



[File No. 092 3093]

Twitter, Inc.; Analysis of Proposed Consent Order to Aid Public 

AGENCY: Federal Trade Commission.

ACTION: Proposed Consent Agreement.


SUMMARY: The consent agreement in this matter settles alleged 
violations of federal law prohibiting unfair or deceptive acts or 
practices or unfair methods of competition. The attached Analysis to 
Aid Public Comment describes both the allegations in the draft 
complaint and the terms of the consent order -- embodied in the consent 
agreement -- that would settle these allegations.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before July 26, 2010.

ADDRESSES: Interested parties are invited to submit written comments 
electronically or in paper form. Comments should refer to``Twitter, 
Inc., File No. 092 3093'' to facilitate the organization of comments. 
Please note that your comment -- including your name and your state -- 
will be placed on the public record of this proceeding, including on 
the publicly accessible FTC website, at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm).
    Because comments will be made public, they should not include any 
sensitive personal information, such as an individual's Social Security 
Number; date of birth; driver's license number or other state 
identification number, or foreign country equivalent; passport number; 
financial account number; or credit or debit card number. Comments also 
should not include any sensitive health information, such as medical 
records or other individually identifiable health information. In 
addition, comments should not include any ``[t]rade secret or any 
commercial or financial information which is obtained from any person 
and which is privileged or confidential. . . .,'' as provided in 
Section 6(f) of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and Commission Rule 
4.10(a)(2), 16 CFR 4.10(a)(2). Comments containing material for which 
confidential treatment is requested must be filed in paper form, must 
be clearly labeled ``Confidential,'' and must comply with FTC Rule 
4.9(c), 16 CFR 4.9(c).\1\

    \1\ The comment must be accompanied by an explicit request for 
confidential treatment, including the factual and legal basis for 
the request, and must identify the specific portions of the comment 
to be withheld from the public record. The request will be granted 
or denied by the Commission's General Counsel, consistent with 
applicable law and the public interest. See FTC Rule 4.9(c), 16 CFR 

    Because paper mail addressed to the FTC is subject to delay due to 
heightened security screening, please consider submitting your comments 
in electronic form. Comments filed in electronic form should be 
submitted by using the following weblink: (http://public.commentworks.com/ftc/twitter) and following the instructions on 
the web-based form. To ensure that the Commission considers an 
electronic comment, you must file it on the web-based form at the 
weblink: (http://public.commentworks.com/ftc/twitter). If this Notice 
appears at (http://www.regulations.gov/search/index.jsp), you may also 
file an electronic comment through that website. The Commission will 
consider all comments that regulations.gov forwards to it. You may also 
visit the FTC website at (http://www.ftc.gov/) to read the Notice and 
the news release describing it.
    A comment filed in paper form should include the ``Twitter, Inc., 
File No. 092 3093'' reference both in the text and on the envelope, and 
should be mailed or delivered to the following address: Federal Trade 
Commission, Office of the Secretary, Room H-135 (Annex D), 600 
Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580. The FTC is requesting 
that any comment filed in paper form be sent by courier or overnight 
service, if possible, because U.S. postal mail in the Washington area 
and at the Commission is subject to delay due to heightened security 
    The Federal Trade Commission Act (``FTC Act'') and other laws the 
Commission administers permit the collection of public comments to 
consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. The Commission will 
consider all timely and responsive public comments that it receives, 
whether filed in paper or electronic form. Comments received will be 
available to the public on the FTC website, to the extent practicable, 
at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/publiccomments.shtm). As a matter of 
discretion, the Commission makes every effort to remove home contact 
information for individuals from the public comments it receives before 
placing those comments on the FTC website. More information, including 
routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, may be found in the FTC's 
privacy policy, at (http://www.ftc.gov/ftc/privacy.shtm).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Laura Berger (202-326-2471), Bureau of 
Consumer Protection, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Pursuant to section 6(f) of the Federal 
Trade Commission Act, 38 Stat. 721, 15 U.S.C. 46(f), and Sec.  2.34 the 
Commission Rules of Practice, 16 CFR 2.34, notice is hereby given that 
the above-captioned consent agreement containing a consent order to 
cease and desist, having been filed with and accepted, subject to final 
approval, by the Commission, has been placed on the public record for a 
period of thirty (30) days. The following Analysis to Aid Public 
Comment describes the terms of the consent agreement, and the 
allegations in the complaint. An electronic copy of the full text of 
the consent agreement package can be obtained from the FTC Home Page 
(for June 24, 2010), on the World Wide Web, at (http://www.ftc.gov/os/actions.shtm). A paper copy can be obtained from the FTC Public 
Reference Room, Room 130-H, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, 
D.C. 20580, either in person or by calling (202) 326-2222.

[[Page 37807]]

    Public comments are invited, and may be filed with the Commission 
in either paper or electronic form. All comments should be filed as 
prescribed in the ADDRESSES section above, and must be received on or 
before the date specified in the DATES section.

Analysis of Agreement Containing Consent Order to Aid Public Comment

    The Federal Trade Commission has accepted, subject to final 
approval, a consent agreement from Twitter, Inc. (``Twitter'').
    The proposed consent order has been placed on the public record for 
thirty (30) days for receipt of comments by interested persons. 
Comments received during this period will become part of the public 
record. After thirty (30) days, the Commission will again review the 
agreement and the comments received, and will decide whether it should 
withdraw from the agreement and take appropriate action or make final 
the agreement's proposed order.
    Since approximately July 2006, Twitter has operated 
(www.twitter.com), a social networking website that enables consumers 
who use Twitter (``users'') to send ``tweets'' - brief updates of 140 
characters or less - to their ``followers'' (i.e., users who sign up to 
receive such updates) via email and phone text. Consumers who use 
Twitter can follow other individuals, as well as commercial, media, 
governmental, or nonprofit entities. Twitter offers privacy settings 
through which a user may choose to designate tweets as nonpublic. In 
addition, Twitter collects certain information about its users that it 
does not make public (``nonpublic user information''). Such information 
includes: an email address, Internet Protocol (``IP'') addresses, 
mobile telephone number (for users who receive updates by phone), and 
the username for any Twitter account that a user has chosen to 
``block'' from exchanging tweets with the user. This nonpublic user 
information cannot be viewed by other users or any other third parties, 
but - with the exception of IP addresses - can be viewed after login by 
the account owner.
    The Commission's complaint alleges that Twitter violated Section 
5(a) of the FTC Act by falsely representing to consumers that it uses 
at least reasonable safeguards to protect user information from 
unauthorized access. The complaint further alleges that, through its 
statements regarding the privacy settings it offers to enable users to 
keep their tweets private, Twitter falsely represented that it 
maintains at least reasonable safeguards to honor the privacy choices 
exercised by users. Despite these representations, Twitter engaged in a 
number of practices that, taken together, failed to provide reasonable 
and appropriate security to prevent unauthorized access to nonpublic 
user information and honor the privacy choices exercised by such users 
in designating certain tweets as nonpublic. Specifically, Twitter 
failed to prevent unauthorized administrative control of the Twitter 
system, which includes the ability to: reset a user's account password, 
view a user's nonpublic tweets and other nonpublic user information, 
and send tweets on behalf of a user. Among other things, Twitter failed 

a. establish or enforce policies sufficient to make administrative 
passwords hard to guess, including policies that: (1) prohibit the use 
of common dictionary words as administrative passwords; or (2) require 
that such passwords be unique - i.e., different from any password that 
the employee uses to access third-party programs, websites, and 

b. establish or enforce policies sufficient to prohibit storage of 
administrative passwords in plain text in personal email accounts;

c. suspend or disable administrative passwords after a reasonable 
number of unsuccessful login attempts;

d. provide an administrative login webpage that is made known only to 
authorized persons and is separate from the login webpage provided to 
other users;

e. enforce periodic changes of administrative passwords, such as by 
setting these passwords to expire every 90 days;

f. restrict each person's access to administrative controls according 
to the needs of that person's job; and

g. impose other reasonable restrictions on administrative access, such 
as by restricting access to specified IP addresses.

    The complaint alleges that between January and May 2009, intruders 
exploited these failures on two occasions in order to obtain 
unauthorized administrative control of the Twitter system. Through this 
administrative control, the intruders were able to: (1) gain 
unauthorized access to nonpublic tweets and nonpublic user information, 
and (2) reset users' passwords and send unauthorized tweets from users' 
    The proposed order applies to ``nonpublic consumer information'' 
from or about an individual consumer. ``Nonpublic consumer 
information'' is defined broadly to mean nonpublic, individually-
identifiable information from or about an individual consumer, 
including, but not limited to, an individual consumer's: (a) email 
address; (b) Internet Protocol (``IP'') address or other persistent 
identifier; (c) mobile telephone number; and (d) nonpublic 
communications made using Twitter's microblogging platform. The 
proposed order contains provisions designed to prevent Twitter from 
engaging in the future in practices similar to those alleged in the 
    Part I of the proposed order prohibits Twitter from misrepresenting 
the security, privacy, confidentiality, or integrity of any ``nonpublic 
consumer information.''
    Part II of the proposed order requires Twitter to establish and 
maintain a comprehensive information security program in writing that 
is reasonably designed to protect the security, privacy, 
confidentiality, and integrity of nonpublic consumer information. The 
security program must contain administrative, technical, and physical 
safeguards appropriate to Twitter's size and complexity, the nature and 
scope of its activities, and the sensitivity of the nonpublic consumer 
information. Specifically, the order requires Twitter to:

 designate an employee or employees to coordinate and be 
accountable for the information security program;

 identify reasonably-foreseeable, material risks, both internal 
and external, that could result in the unauthorized disclosure, misuse, 
loss, alteration, destruction, or other compromise of nonpublic 
consumer information or in unauthorized administrative control of the 
Twitter system and assess the sufficiency of any safeguards in place to 
control these risks;

 design and implement reasonable safeguards to control the 
risks identified through risk assessment and regularly test or monitor 
the effectiveness of the safeguards' key controls, systems, and 

 develop and use reasonable steps to select and retain service 
providers capable of appropriately safeguarding nonpublic consumer 
information they receive from respondent, and require service providers 
by contract to implement and maintain appropriate safeguards; and

 evaluate and adjust its information security program in light 
of the results

[[Page 37808]]

of the testing and monitoring, any material changes to its operations 
or business arrangements, or any other circumstances that it knows or 
has reason to know may have a material impact on the effectiveness of 
its information security program.

    Part III of the proposed order requires that Twitter obtain within 
180 days, and on a biennial basis thereafter for ten (10) years, an 
assessment and report from a qualified, objective, independent third-
party professional, certifying, among other things, that: it has in 
place a security program that provides protections that meet or exceed 
the protections required by Part II of the proposed order; and its 
security program is operating with sufficient effectiveness to provide 
reasonable assurance that the security, privacy, confidentiality, and 
integrity of nonpublic consumer information is protected.
    Parts IV through VIII of the proposed order are reporting and 
compliance provisions. The proposed order requires Twitter to retain 
for a period of five (5) years from the date received, documents that 
contradict, qualify, or call into question its compliance with this 
order. Part IV further requires that Twitter retain all materials 
relied upon to prepare the third-party assessments for a period of 
three (3) years after the date that each assessment is prepared. In 
addition, Part IV requires that Twitter retain all ``widely-
disseminated statements'' that describe the extent to which it 
maintains and protects the security, privacy, confidentiality, or 
integrity of any nonpublic consumer information, along with all 
materials relied upon in making or disseminating such statements, for a 
period of three (3) years after the date of preparation or 
dissemination, whichever is later. Part IV also requires Twitter to 
maintain for six (6) months from the date received all consumer 
complaints directed at Twitter or forwarded to Twitter from a third 
party that relate to the activities alleged in the proposed complaint. 
Finally, Part IV requires that Twitter maintain for two (2) years from 
the date received copies of all subpoenas and communications with law 
enforcement, if such communications relate to Twitter's compliance with 
the order.
    Part V requires dissemination of the order now and in the future to 
principals, officers, directors, and managers, and to all current and 
future employees, agents, and representatives having responsibilities 
relating to the subject matter of the order. Part VI ensures 
notification to the FTC of changes in corporate status. Part VII 
mandates that Twitter submit an initial compliance report to the FTC 
and make available to the FTC subsequent reports. Part VIII is a 
provision ``sunsetting'' the order after twenty (20) years, with 
certain exceptions.
    The purpose of the analysis is to aid public comment on the 
proposed order. It is not intended to constitute an official 
interpretation of the proposed order or to modify its terms in any way.
    By direction of the Commission.

Donald S. Clark,
[FR Doc. 2010-15827 Filed 6-29-10; 1:40 pm]