Twitter fined for violating EU privacy law in 'bellwether' case

Twitter has been hit with a fine for violating European Union privacy law in a "bellwether" case.

Ireland's Data Protection Commission on Tuesday announced it has fined Twitter €450,000, or roughly $546,000, for not notifying it within 72 hours about a data breach that led to the private tweets of some users being exposed, The Wall Street Journal reports. Twitter disclosed this breach in January 2019, saying an issue with Twitter for Android "disabled the 'Protect your Tweets' setting if certain account changes were made" from November 2014 through January 2019.

This case, Journal writes, "is a bellwether because it is the first in a long pipeline of privacy cases involving big U.S. tech companies in Ireland," and now, the Journal adds, the "European Union's new privacy law has its first fine for a U.S. tech company in a cross-border case" more than two years after the General Data Protection Regulation was implemented.

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Twitter's chief privacy officer blamed an "unanticipated consequence of staffing between Christmas Day 2018 and New Years' Day" for the delay in reporting the breach, adding that the company has made changes so that "all incidents following this have been reported" in a "timely fashion," Bloomberg reports.

Critics had taken issue with how long the process that ultimately led to this fine for Twitter took, Bloomberg notes, as the investigation opened nearly two years ago in January 2019. The Data Protection Commission described the fine for Twitter as "an effective, proportionate and dissuasive measure." According to Bloomberg, Ireland's privacy commissioner Helen Dixon has also opened probes involving companies like Apple and Facebook.

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