Twitter Security Executives Call it Quits Amid Concerns of Compliance Breach


In what has proven to be yet another rough week at Twitter, the company’s CISO, chief privacy officer and chief compliance officer have all resigned. A letter penned by a lawyer from Twitter’s legal team suggests the trio stepped down because of disagreements with the new leadership about the company’s privacy and compliance-related matters.

Twitter CISO Lea Kissner, chief privacy officer Damien Kieran, and chief compliance officer Marianne Fogarty are joining the ~3,700 former employees out of the company, albeit of their own volition.

Kissner confirmedOpens a new window her decision on her Twitter account but refrained from stating why. Meanwhile, Kieran and Fogarty tweeted ambiguousOpens a new window messagesOpens a new window suggesting they have also decided to call it quits from Twitter.

Apparently, Elon Musk, who was forced to close his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter in October 2022 to avoid legal whirlwinds after trying to back out of the deal, “cares only about recouping the losses he’s incurring as a result of failing to get out of his binding obligation to buy Twitter,” reads a letter written by a Twitter lawyer and obtained by The Verge.

The Tesla and SpaceX CEO has taken up his new role as “Chief Twit” with notable zest, which is unusual given he tried to kill the deal. Under his leadership, Twitter has been rolling out features and updates, often at the cost of clarity among users.

The letter continues, “Elon has shown that his only priority with Twitter users is how to monetize them. I do not believe he cares about the human rights activists. the dissidents, our users in un-monetizable regions, and all the other users who have made Twitter the global town square you have all spent so long building, and we all love.”

From the $8 Twitter Blue subscription to reconstituting what a blue tick entails as opposed to a gray ‘official’ tick and later rolling it back, the platform certainly is chaotic but seasoned users are engaging in discourse over the implications, not to mention leveraging their creativity with memes.

However, the lawyer argues that such a rapid rollout of untested features could result in a multi-billion dollar penalty from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), breach users’ privacy rights and possibly put them at risk.

See More: Twitter’s Ex-Security Head Calls Out “Extreme Deficiencies” in Its Security Practices

“I have heard Alex Spiro (current head of Legal) say that Elon is willing to take on a huge amount of risk in relation to this company and its users, because ‘Elon puts rockets into space, he’s not afraid of the FTC’,” the unnamed lawyer added.

Additionally, they allege that Musk is asking engineers to self-certify FTC compliance. “I have heard another leader in the Legal department say that because of the tight SLA’s (of two weeks?!) between product inception > launch, Legal will ‘have to shift the burden to engineers’ to self-certify compliance with FTC requirements and other laws.”

In May 2022, the FTC fined Twitter $150 millionOpens a new window for breaching user privacy and its decade-long agreement with the regulator to be penalized for misrepresenting its security and privacy undertakings. Between May 2013 to September 2019, the company leveraged the data users provided to secure their accounts with two-factor authentication, to serve up targeted advertisements.

In a statement to The Hill, the FTC made it clear that it is keeping a tab on the developments at the San Francisco-based company.” No CEO or company is above the law, and companies must follow our consent decrees. Our revised consent order gives us new tools to ensure compliance, and we are prepared to use them,” the FTC said.

There’s already been one Twitter whistleblower. I bet there’ll be more, if people are quitting/getting fired because they’re being asked to do illegal stuff. Maybe they’ll whistle-blow even before he can bring in people from his other companies to do what they wouldn’t.

— Riana Pfefferkorn (@Riana_Crypto) November 10, 2022Opens a new window

Capping off what was already a significant Thursday, the billionaire technocrat owner of Tesla, SpaceX, The Boring Company, and Neuralink said in his first call with his three-week-old acquisition of Twitter’s employees that the company might be looking at a bankruptcy scenario.

“Without significant subscription revenue, there is a good chance Twitter will not survive the upcoming economic downturn.” Moreover, the back-and-forth on feature rollout and an exodus of advertisers, even if temporary, is hurting Twitter’s coffers in the short term. The company’s $1.08 billion advertising revenue in Q2 2022 was91.25% of the total.

Companies that have suspended advertising spending on Twitter include Tesla competitors General Motors, Ford, Mazda and Volkswagen; Chipotle Mexican Grill, General Mills, Pfizer, Audi, United Airlines, Mondelez, Carlsberg Group and more.

And if that wasn’t enough, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, reportedlyOpens a new window also decided to leave the company yesterday.

The Twitter lawyer concluded their letter by encouraging employees to report ethical quandaries to the company’s Ethics Hotline, the FTC or Whistleblower Aid.

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